Military Youth Learn Survival Skills

  • Published
  • By TSgt Jeremy J. McClure
  • 185th ARW Public Affairs
With camouflage paint on their faces and armed with compass and map, a team of young survivalists trek into the woods. Their objective: locate a can the size of a shoebox without being seen by the rival team. This was one of the activities 14 teens embarked on during Military Youth Survival Day, hosted by the 185th Air Refueling Wings (ARW) Airman and Family Programs Office.

"Most of the kids today are children of Airmen with the unit, (185th ARW) but we also have a boy whose father is deploying with his Army Guard unit in the fall," said Lori Risdal of the 185th's Airman and Family Programs. "Children of deployed military members face unique stresses that other kids don't. Many of the children in the area may be the only ones in their schools that have family members deployed. We hope to help them develop some coping skills while having fun."
The day also gave the kids an opportunity to meet and connect with others their age that have family deployed.
Several other groups from outside agencies assisted with the day as well. Operation Military Kids with the Iowa State Extension Office led team building exercises to get the teams to learn how to work together. Military Family Life Consultants were also on hand and taught the teens how to recognize when they are under stress and some relaxation techniques to reduce that stress.

The fourteen kids in attendance were split into two teams, the Rangers and Savage Survivors, and created their own flags. Working together, they helped apply camouflage paint to each other's faces, cooked hotdogs over an open fire, and navigated the woods behind the base. The best part of the day was "being outside," according to Megan Vander Molen, whose father is a member the 185th ARW.

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