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BATON ROUGE, La. – A group of youth from Louisiana and neighboring states recently completed Teen Leadership Camp on the LSU campus.
The three-day event was part of the Operation Military Kids program, which partners with communities and organizations throughout America to help support the children of deployed service members.
LSU AgCenter 4-H Youth Development hosted the camp, which encouraged teenagers to develop leadership skills and healthy relationships.
“When you’re here, everybody’s the exact same. You’re normal, and you feel like you fit in,” said 14- year-old participant Leah, who has been to several camps. She said it was an extremely positive outlet.
The campers toured Tiger Stadium, tackled challenging rock walls and a ropes course, learned CPR and first aid, played laser tag, bowled and produced two videos documenting their experiences at the camp.
The LSU University Recreation challenge course, with rock climbing and a ropes course, was one of the most popular activities.
“We definitely had to communicate, trying to solve the task,” said 14-year old camper Joel. “It was a good accomplishment from a team perspective.”
“This is supposed to be a fun outlet for them. Mom and dad don’t have to worry about paying for this support system. Everything is taken care of,” said Susan Dawson Riley, coordinator of Operation Military Kids with LSU AgCenter 4-H.
The camp experience, funded by the U. S. Army, also included a trained military counselor to help the youth with any deployment issues.
“The kids were excited and tired. They made new friends and walked away happy so it was a successful camp,” said Dawson Riley.
Although this was Joel’s first camp experience, he said he enjoyed it, and it helped him realize he’s not alone.
“I think a lot of military kids don’t really get the opportunity to bond,” he said. “This provided an opportunity I didn’t have before, and I will definitely go to another one (camp) in the future.”
The next Operation Military Kids event will be SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) Camp, September 5-7, 2014, at the Wesley Center in Woodworth, Louisiana.
It will include robotics, engineering, forensics and rocketry and is available to youth 7-14 years old who are dependents of National Guard, Air National Guard and Army Reserve members. It is free of charge.
To register for Operation Military Kids events, contact Susan Dawson Riley at 225-578-5786 or email or Caitie Davis at 225-578-2974 or email.
More information is available here.