It’s not very often that military children get a chance to see what their parents do on a day-to-day basis. The USO of Metropolitan Washington gave more than 75 children that opportunity and then some. On July 20, 2011 at Fort Belvoir’s Castle Park, USO Metropolitan Washington hosted the first-ever “Operation Basic Boot Camp.” After checking in, the kids had 30 seconds to change into their new t-shirts and meet their drill instructors for a day of fun and challenging activities.
Their instructors were no joke and the kids gained valuable insight and appreciation into their parents’ lives: “I learned that my parents have been working really hard and what they do is no joke,” says Bryce Hairston, 12.
Both of Bryce’s parents served in the Air Force for more than 20 years and his mother is still active duty.
Once the children were finished with PT, they welcomed Elaine Rogers, president of USO-Metro; and Col. John Strycula, Fort Belvoir garrison commander; for a few words of advice.
Strycula emphasized teamwork and wanted the youth to learn what their parents go through on a day-to-day basis. He also reminded them to stay hydrated because safety always comes first.
After lunch, the children separated into groups for some team-building activities, face painting to help them blend in with their surroundings, and ended the day with a competitive game of Capture the Flag.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Bryce Hairston said, “At first, I didn’t think I could do it. But, once the drill instructors started yelling at me, it really motivated me to believe I could do it.”
All participants received certificates stating their completion of the first USO-Metro Operation Basic Boot Camp. With the incredible success of the 2011 program, event plans are currently underway to expand. – Joseph P. Scannell, New Media Intern
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