BITBURG, GERMANY -- According to the National Military Family Association, an estimated 155,000 children are coping with having a deployed parent—and in some cases two deployed parents. To help these children, Installation Management Command-Europe in Germany recently offered a sports and fitness event as a part of Camp A.R.M.Y Challenge, a summer program for children in grades six through 12.
The sports and fitness camp was held at Sportschule Bitburg, a former U.S. air base in Germany. More than 75 children from military installations from Belgium to Italy participated in the camp and received a week of individualized instruction from coaches and trainers, along with trying outdoor adventures, such as canoeing and wall climbing.
Camp instructor Eric Teepe says that the life of a military family is “a whole other world.”
“I had one boy tell me at lunch that he's moved six times—and he's 10 years old,” Teepe says. “We always hear about the struggles of soldiers in wartime, but we never see the other side of it, how the children have to deal with it as well.”
During the sports and fitness event, counselors aim at improving the mind, body and soul, says Joe Marton, director of Camp A.R.M.Y Challenge.
“The mind as in having the knowledge and interest in making the right decisions in life, the body as in learning how to remain healthy throughout your life, and the soul as in being an active part of society throughout one's life,” Marton says.
The A.R.M.Y in Camp A.R.M.Y Challenge stands for adventure, resilience, memories and youth. Although the camps are intended for Army families, the children of deployed troops from other services are eligible to take part as well. Other events in the challenge include an island adventure challenge that focuses on environmental issues and a space camp about science and technology.