Maxwell hosts Camp Sunshine for sixth year

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Hosting Camp Sunshine has become a tradition at Maxwell Air Force Base. Young people from the local community have come here for fun and learning for the last six summers.

The camp is a collaborative effort between the Central Alabama Community Foundation, the local area Boy Scouts and Maxwell-Gunter. Camp Sunshine allows boys 6 to 12 years old from Montgomery County Public Housing to gather at the base and participate in activities such as target shooting and archery, military working dog demonstrations, swimming and bowling.

About 50 boys were picked up by bus each day at their housing areas and brought to Maxwell to join in the games, fun and learning, said Chan Gamble, the Boy Scout representative and an organizer of the camp. In total, about 70 children participated and 30 Maxwell volunteers helped with the program that ran July 28 through Aug. 1.

"The kids just love coming to Maxwell, and I can't say enough about the volunteers at the base who help us with the program," he said. "They act as mentors and provide the boys with such a positive association with Maxwell people."

Campers were treated to a military working dog demonstration by members of the 42nd Security Forces Squadron at Maxwell's base lakes July 30. Conducted by Tech. Sgt. Marvin Fleeting, 42nd SFS kennel master, the demonstration introduced the boys to working dogs Loy and Nero, and they watched as the dogs displayed their training, obedience and skills.

"We treat these dogs with great care," Sergeant Fleeting told the young group. "The dogs are very important pieces of military equipment, and we have sent Maxwell dogs to Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, virtually all over the world. They always perform admirably."

Marcus Williams, a 12-year-old sixth grader, described Camp Sunshine as, "cool." He said he liked shooting BB-guns and arrows the most, but also enjoyed the rest of the program.

"I really loved the dog demonstration and swimming, and the base has the best food," he said. "I'm really happy to be here. I also liked the fishing. I caught a little one, but I threw him back."

Zane Purdy, 11, also favored the lakes and the dog demonstration.

"This is my first time to come out here, and I really want to come back," he said. "I caught 10 fish in the lake, and the BB-guns and bows and arrows were a lot of fun, too."

Amy Brown, 42nd Air Base Wing special events coordinator who works to make Camp Sunshine a reality, said she enjoys the program and watching the boys have fun, but she also feels Camp Sunshine offers more than just a week of entertainment.

"This is a great outreach program for Maxwell, and a great learning opportunity for the kids who attend Camp Sunshine," she said.