Summer camp serves military kids

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson
  • 120th Airlift Wing
Nestled in the mountains near Monarch, Mont. is Camp Rotary, complete with a creek, lodge, cabins and a pavilion.

Each year children of Montana National Guard members converge at this location to participate in a week-long adventure called Camp Runnamucka.

Camp organizers say the goal is to serve children whose military parents have experienced a deployment, are currently deployed or are scheduled to participate in a future deployment.

Montana National Guard Lead Child and Youth Program Coordinator Sara Cease said it's important to bring the children together from across the vast state of Montana to share their experiences of having parents in the military.

"National Guard children especially are scattered geographically," Cease said. "So having this opportunity for them to get together and meet other military kids and know that they're not alone is a great chance."      

Staff members arrived early to set up camp and make arrangements for the camper's arrival. This year 81 children ages nine through 17 attended the camp.

"There's a lot of preparation that goes into Camp Runnamucka," Child and Youth Program Coordinator Christine Holland said. "We're getting all of the food ready, getting all of the volunteers ready, all of the workshops and coordinating all of the materials for them."

The camp gives the children a chance to meet new friends or catch up with some old friends met during a previous camp. Cease said a few camp veterans have attended the last five or six summer camps and some have even grown to be adults and joined the Montana Army or Air National Guard.

The staff members carefully planned out activities to keep the children busy throughout the week working on craft projects, participating in summer camp activities and learning new things.

"Every day a different cabin rotates through archery," Cease said. "We've had a service project and made curtains for Camp Rotary and we've done a diversity project and tie-died T-shirts."

Cease said she appreciates the children for providing the unwavering support of their parents as they serve and complete commitments required of military service. Many have had to endure long periods of time away from their mothers or fathers during overseas deployments.

"I say thank you to the military kids for the sacrifices they make during their parent's service," Cease said. "They're amazing!"