Summer is bright for for Camp Sunshine boys|
by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs
7/27/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Children from the Montgomery County Public Housing Authority convened at Maxwell for Camp Sunshine, a cooperative program between Maxwell and the Montgomery area Boy Scouts.
The kids, ages 6-12, spent this week in different types of events and learning activities, including bowling, swimming, archery, target shooting and a military working dog demonstration.
Michael Collins, district executive for the Boy Scouts and the camp director, said these c amps are very important to a group of children who are underprivileged.
"This is a free camp for kids. Most of these boys would have nothing to do this summer if it weren't for programs like this," he said. "They are at home, hanging in their neighborhood and some of them are getting into trouble. We want to bring them out here and let them have fun and hopefully teach them morals and do some character building."
Collins said hosting the event on base is a big part of the camp's success.
"Aside from this being a great facility for the camp, we get the volunteerism from the people working and living at Maxwell. It makes it so much easier to run the camp," he said.
One of those local volunteers was Tech Sgt. Wayne Noa, a quality assurance manager at Gunter.
"It's great being able to work with the kids. A lot of these kids come from troubled backgrounds but they are all good kids," Noa said. "I grew up in a similar neighborhood to what these kids live in, so I can relate to what these kids are going through."
The children also had an opportunity to meet with base leadership during the camp, including 42nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Trent Edwards, Vice Wing Commander Susan Schlacter and Command Chief Garth Meade.
"We are integrated with the local community. We live off base, eat off base and shop off base. We are one community partner," Edwards said. "This is an opportunity to bring kids onto base show them what it's like."
The Airmen even got to have a little fun with the kids after Meade suggested a foot race between the children and the leadership team. While they may not be as fast as Usain Bolt, Edwards suggested, "We might have a few future Olympians out there."
Despite all the fun, Edwards said he hopes that both the children and the volunteers will take something away from the event.
"Those that have the opportunity to give back to those that are less fortunate should take on that responsibility," Edwards said. "It's the small things that mean so much to these children. Bowling, running and being outside in wide open spaces. I hope our Airmen take away a sense of childhood."