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Summer camp — hiking, playing sports … sailing on tall ships?

Sixty high school students will get a chance this summer to go on one-week sailing trips on the North Sea through a program offered by Installation Command Europe. The two trips, scheduled for July 21-27 and July 27 to Aug. 1, will embark from North Sea ports in the Rostock area.

Trips are open to students who have a servicemember parent deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, recently returned from deployment, or soon deploying.

“So they can learn skills and be out of their environment, so they can act like kids — and there’s nothing wrong with having fun,” Joseph Marton, head of youth programs for Installation Command Europe, said in explaining the purpose of the program.

The trips are part of Camp A.R.M.Y. — Adventure, Resilience, Memories, Youth — Challenge. The camp also is offering weeklong programs for middle school students who want to explore the city of Heidelberg (July 16-21) or a German coastal island (Aug. 6-11).

Up to 520 students can be accommodated, though participation is limited to one program per student. Programs are sponsored by IMCOM-Europe’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department.

A tall ships program was last organized by the Würzburg-area garrisons from 1999-2001, Marton said, and sounded like a good idea for this summer.

Summertime can be especially tough for children of a deployed parent, and sometimes the child benefits from having a “cohort of support,” according to Jane Helfrich, IMCOM-Europe’s mobilization and deployment specialist.

“The [children] can talk to each other about what it’s like in the family when their mom or dad is not there,” Helfrich said. “They have that bond, that connection, where it’s OK to say, ‘I miss my mom,’ or, ‘I miss my dad.’”

It can also be hard for the parent left behind on the home front who doesn’t have a spouse to share the parenting load.

“If there is just one parent in the home and maybe two or three kids out of school, and there’s a lot of leisure time on their hands, what do you do with them?” Helfrich said. “There’s a little more stress on the parent to be creative and finds things for kids to do.”

Deadline for applying is May 4. Further information and applications forms are available at www.mwr-europe.com.

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