CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq — The magic of technology helped Soldiers at Contingency Operating Base Basra chat with their children at the Minnesota National Guard Youth Camp, July 30 and Aug. 6.
The annual Minnesota National Guard Youth Camp for children of Guard members was held, July 26 through Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 through Aug. 8, at Camp Ripley in central Minnesota. In many ways it is just like any other camp. The campers swam, canoed, rode bikes, played sports and camped out for a night.
"We also give them a taste of the military so that they can see what their mom or dad does in the National Guard," said Ray Kennedy, the coordinator for the Youth Camps. "We talk a lot about patriotism, teach them how to raise and lower the flag, they sleep in barracks like their parents and we teach them how to march."
Many of the campers have parents who are deployed so being around each other is helpful.
"The campers meet other kids who are in the same situation," Kennedy said. "They have someone who they can relate to."
Through the teamwork of Kennedy's staff and the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, campers were able to chat with parents who are deployed to Iraq.
For the Jacobs family, it was the first time they have been able to talk via webcam since Sgt. 1st Class Darla Jacobs and her husband Maj. Steven Jacobs of Waseca, Minn., deployed to Iraq in April.
Mom and dad spent 15 minutes talking to their daughter, Hallie, and son, Ben. "It was so sweet to just see them and hear their voices," said Darla, a chaplain's assistant with the 34th.
Steven, the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear and High Yield Explosives and Force Protection chief for the 34th said, "seeing them and realizing that they are being taken care of by our Guard family was soothing."
The Soldiers also taped a video greeting for the camps' opening ceremonies. More than 20 Soldiers were able to chat with their children during a break in the activities at the camps, staffed by volunteers, who are current and retired members of the Minnesota National Guard and their families.
"We want to thank everyone who helped make this happen," Darla said. "It was the closest thing to being right there next to them."