MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
As most parents can testify to, children love to play pretend. Their smiles don’t get any brighter than when they are acting as something or someone bigger than they are, and most of the time, they want to be mom and dad.
For one day, the children of Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, will be able to play Marine at the HQSPTBn. Kids Boot Camp, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“They’ll get to see a little bit of what they think their moms and dads do on a daily basis,” said Lt. Col. David G. Bardorf, commanding officer of HQSPTBn. “They get out and play Marine for a little while. We are looking at 1,500 Marines, and then 4,000 dependents (in this battalion), so how do you bring something that big together and get them involved? By holding events like this, (which) we now have every quarter. It brings families together and our family readiness officer gets to meet the families, seek out volunteers, educate them about the resources available and it also gets the kids out there having a good time.”
The boot camp will feature a slew of activities for children including a mini physical and combat fitness test, rock climbing wall, Nerf target range, camouflage paint and an obstacle course.
“We are having the event at Hospital Point, and since they have some jungle gym equipment out there, we may incorporate those (into the obstacle course),” said Rhonda Tomlinson, family readiness officer for HQSPTBn. “That will also help with the younger children. (Last year,) we had some very little kids out there. They of course can’t do some of the activities, but mom and dad were doing sit ups and they’d be lying across their stomachs.”
The event is for children 4 years and older and there must be at least one parent present at the event. Tomlinson said it is a good way for children to understand what their parents are referring to when they talk about their day.
“When dad comes home and says, ‘I did great on my PFT today or my CFT,’ now they know some of the activities that they are actually doing,” said Tomlinson.
Bardorf added that it then gives children the ability to relate to what their parents are doing at work.
“I think it’s a huge source of pride for a mom and dad to be able to bring their child to work,” said Bardorf. “Having Marines out there training or guiding their children around Marine-type events, there’s a lot of smiles and pride on parents’ faces. From another perspective, (the parents) get to see how proud their children are of them.”
The children are divided by age groups with children “company commanders” as they pass through the events. For children who are much smaller, there are areas where toddlers may play freely with bubbles, balls or in the playground area at Hospital Point.
The event is taking a lot of coordination between the FRO and HQSPTBn. staff.
“It’s really a team effort,” said Bardorf. “Our hard hitters are the S-3 and S-4 shops and our family readiness officer, but we get all of our equipment from Marine Corps Community Services. It is all controlled and coordinated by Rhonda, but all aspects of the core staff are helping make this a successful event.”
To register for the event, visit eMarine.org, and click on the family readiness page for the registration’s form. eMarine is a subscription-based website that allows Marines, family members and commands to safely share information. Service members and their families may register to view specific units. eMarine provides families and units with any information the units’ FRO has available, including upcoming events, jobs and other resources. The registration deadline for the kid’s boot camp is April 10.
Volunteer information can also be found on the eMarine family readiness website.
“We strongly encourage parents to attend,” said Tomlinson. “It’s a really great time for military parents and their children.”