Yongsan hosts June Jamboree for children with special needs
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Water balloons flew through the air, teams battled in tug-of-war and kids kept dozens of volunteers scrambling in the hot sun at South Post on Friday during the annual June Jamboree.
The day of activities was part of the Exceptional Family Member Program, an Army initiative that provides housing, education and medical services to families with special-needs children, said Alexander Carter, the program’s Area II coordinator.
Exceptional family members are those who have physical or developmental disorders requiring special treatment. Friday’s social brought together more than 200 military and civilian volunteers with 126 kids, Carter said.
“Parents and people form relationships out here,” Carter said.
It was the 18th June Jamboree at Yongsan Garrison. In the morning, students swam and bowled and participated in a variety of activities on Collier Field No. 5 that stretched into the afternoon. Volunteers were paired with kids, and some parents brought their own children.
Glenn Douglas II, 11, was forming a special relationship with his father after blasting him from behind with a water balloon.
The younger Douglas said his favorite part of the jamboree was the water balloons, followed closely by the morning swim. Glenn Douglas Sr. said the program is a good initiative that has met his child’s needs and provided activities.
Jemetta Smith, an eighth-grade teacher at Seoul American Middle School, brought 12 students to volunteer as part of their career path class, which helps them think about what jobs they might pursue as adults. “A lot of them decided from this that they wanted to work with kids,” she said.
Rebekah Tarvin, an eighth-grade volunteer, said she also learned about organizational skills involved in setting up a large activity such as the jamboree. “You can’t just set something up — you have to plan ahead,” she added.
Spc. Marci Boucher, of the 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion, was paired with 9-year-old Phoebe Burgess, a third-grader. Burgess’ face was painted like a leopard at the face-painting station.
Boucher said she enjoyed the jamboree since there are few opportunities to hang out with children. “It’s a fun way to be able to have kid experiences,” she said.