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Off to Camp Runnamucka

Lt. Col. Garth Scott discusses the operation of a OH-58 Kiowa helicopter at Camp Runnamucka.
 (U.S. AirForce photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.)

Lt. Col. Garth Scott discusses the operation of a OH-58 Kiowa helicopter at Camp Runnamucka. (U.S. AirForce photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.)

Brig. Gen. Joel Cusker leads the campers in a cheer at Camp Runnamucka, located in the Little Belt Mountains near Monarch, Mont. The week-long summer camp is organized to serve the children of Montana Army and Air National Guard and active duty
personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.)

Brig. Gen. Joel Cusker leads the campers in a cheer at Camp Runnamucka, located in the Little Belt Mountains near Monarch, Mont. The week-long summer camp is organized to serve the children of Montana Army and Air National Guard and active duty personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.)

Monarch Mont. -- At first glance, Camp Runnamucka looks like it could be a typical summer camp for kids.

The camp was held at Camp Rotary, located in the Little Belt Mountains near Monarch, Mont., from June 27 through July 1.

The site features furnished cabins, a covered activities area, a new bathroom facility and a cooking and dining building.

The campers can participate in games and crafts. They also take part in teambuilding activities
that include water balloon volleyball, a survival hike and the chance to talk about common experiences related to their parent's deployment.

Children aged nine through 17 can apply to attend the week-long camp. Priority is given to those whose parents have recently deployed or will soon deploy on a tour of service for their country.

"Military children have unique challenges and situations that a normal camp wouldn't, so we're able to get them together and meet with their peers and see kids that are going through
the same things that they are missing-a loved one or being away from a loved one. So it's very nice for them to have that time together," said Sara Cease, the State Youth Coordinator for the Montana National Guard and the Director of Camp Runnamucka.

This year, 72 campers and 15 junior counselors attended the camp. The children attend camp based on their parent's membership in the Montana National Guard and the active duty services, but there is no service rivalry present, such as promoting Air Force blue or Army green.

"It's all about the kids and bringing them some good activities.There's no color, other than the good old red, white and blue," said Holly Wick, the 120th Fighter Wing Airman and Family Readiness Program Manager, and the Camp Advisor now serving her fourth year at the summer camp.

Twenty Montana National Guard service members or the spouses of service members volunteered to work as staff members at the camp, leading activities and workshops and serving as cabin parents. The volunteers also included a medic from the Army National
Guard and several Air National Guard cooks.

Staff Sgt. Eric Giskaas is a member of the 120th Fighter Wing and volunteered to
serve as a cabin parent during the week-long camp. This is his fourth year volunteering
for the camp he once attended as a youth.

"I remembered how much fun I had and how much fun all of the adults had made it. I
really wanted to contribute back to the camp that I had experienced. I wanted all of
the kids to experience the same kind of fun that I had," said Sergeant Giskaas.

A camp highlight was the fly-in of two Army National Guard OH-58 Kiowa helicopters
that landed in camp to give the children an opportunity to see the aircraft close up and to share the positive message of staying drug free.

The fly-in was organized as part of the Montana National Guard's Drug Demand Reduction
program.

The campers also learn about community service by making tables, benches and bat
houses that will be left behind as improvements to the camp.

"It's a win-win for all of us. They stay here at the camp, so the kids get to learn about community service and giving to others too, because so many people give to them as a military family," said Wick.
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