News: HQSPBn hosts kids boot camp
Story by Pfc. Nikki Phongsisattanak
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Little Marines with camouflage face paint competed with each other and put their bodies to the test, honing their marksmanship by firing Nerf weapons, racing through an inflatable obstacle course, and dashing through mini-physical fitness and combat fitness tests.
Marines brought their children to the second annual Headquarters and Support Battalion Kids Boot Camp event, hosted at the Paradise Point recreational area aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, recently.
Children as young as four had a chance to participate in activities that were similar to the training their Marine parents do. The youngsters were broken up to five companies each with a specific age group, so they were evenly matched in skill and ability levels.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring the (military) kids out to do Marine-like events and share a little bit about what their parents do,” said Lt. Col. David G. Bardorf, the battalion commanding officer of HQSPTBn.
The event was a team effort of the battalion staff, but it was led by the battalion’s family readiness officer, Rhonda Tomlinson.
“My mission, as Family Readiness Officer, is to empower both the Marine and family members to successfully balance the rigors of a military lifestyle, family, career and mission events, and to serve as a communication portal between the battalion and family members,” said Tomlinson. “Kids Boot Camp builds unit camaraderie by bringing Marines, sailors, soldiers and their families together for a fun-filled event.”
The event also provided a focal point to celebrate Month of the Military Child and National Take Your Child to Work Day.
“Rather than merely permitting military personnel to bring their children into the work space, we provided an opportunity for children to actually participate in some of the activities that Marines do as a part of their mission capability,” added Tomlinson. “(The event was) an exciting opportunity for children to enjoy lots of fresh air, physical activity and time with their parents. It also encourages children to become more engaged in the family’s military lifestyle.”
Parents laughed and took pictures of their children as they found the courage to do events such as the rock climb. Children also conducted hand-to-hand combat in child-sized sumo-suits. The marshmallow-like suits compromised their balance, and the children toppled face first and flat on their backs, on the ground kicking and flailing their arms and legs like beached whales as parents tried their best not to fall from laughing.
“Watching the kids wrestle in the sumo suites is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time,” said Bardorf. “You’ll see the smiles on their faces, and they’re having a wonderful time. That makes the parents smile. There are so many different departments and sections, so it’s great to have the opportunity to come together and build that sense of camaraderie.”
Headquarters and Support Battalion has quarterly events for the entire battalion: Beach Day on June 21, a Jayne Wayne Day in September, visit to the Pumpkin Patch in October and a Holiday Jubilee in December. Due to the size and diverse mission of the battalion, there are also company-level family readiness events periodically, noted Tomlinson.
Upcoming events can be found on the HQSPTBn. eMarine page at eMarine.org