MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines with School of Infantry-East, and their family members gathered for a break from the stressful operational tempo and indulged in festivities during the annual SOI-East Spring Break Social, hosted at Ivy Hall aboard Camp Geiger, recently.
Children rushed to collect an assortment of colorful eggs that blanketed the green grass during the egg hunt. Some of the youngsters unleashed their liveliness jumping and sliding on the inflatable playground. Parents smiled and took pictures of their children as they played.
“It’s really good for the kids because it gets them out of the house,” said Sgt. Randall D. Dobbs, a training and licensing noncommissioned officer with Headquarter and Support Battalion, SOI-East. “They get to see the wildlife and participate in the activities with other kids.”
While children laughed and cheered, loud quacking caught the attention of those who heard it. Oak Gove Stables brought their petting zoo, which included a goose, llama, rabbit, chicken, duck, kids and goats. Children fed the farm animals and saddled up for pony rides.
“I enjoy doing these events for the families,” said Jerry F. Paschall, the owner of Oak Grove Stables. “Some of the Marines haven’t seen some of these animals, so they seem to enjoy them as much as the kids. I like being here to support the Marines and their families and it’s rewarding to see the expression on all of their faces.”
Participants fed the animals, but they could also relax indoors and satisfy their own hunger. They mingled and munched on pizza, snacks and beverages.
“This event builds camaraderie because it gets all the families together and the Marines from different battalions have a chance to meet each other,” said Dobbs.
When the event came to a close, parents shook hands and waved goodbye, and children left the event with their faces painted, bearing prizes and balloon art.
“It’s great to see all the families come out and interact with one another and have a good time,” said Joel Wiltgen, the area coordinator with MCCS. “It’s also good for the young Marines that are here because they have a chance to see the programs and events that are put out for the families. They may get married and have kids in the future, so it’s good to let see that there is support from the commands and (organizations). It’s the fruition of a lot of work (and planning), but it makes you feel good to see the Marine families happy.”