News: 'Raiders,’ Camp Fort Carson give kids firsthand look at Army
Story by Spc. Nathan Thome
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Children from elementary schools throughout the Colorado Springs area attended the second annual Camp Fort Carson at Ironhorse Park, experiencing firsthand the tools Soldiers work with on a daily basis, May 9.
Thirty-seven units adopted schools as part of Fort Carson's Adopt-a-School program. Through the program, soldiers give back to their community and mentor students during activities that take place in and after school, along with events such as Camp Fort Carson.
Students from each school gathered for a safety brief to start their event and then divided into groups to visit soldiers at each of the 12 stations set up around the park.
“This was a great opportunity for the children who have never been on an Army post,” said Margaret McCormick, acting lead for the Adopt-a-School program and school support services. “It gave them the chance to see soldiers as people, as opposed to what they see on TV.”
At one of the stations, children met with soldiers from 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. They learned about the M1A2 Abrams tank and M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle and, with supervision from soldiers and chaperones, the students climbed on top and inside the vehicles.
“Bringing these kids out here is beneficial to both them and the soldiers,” said Brandon Bailey, an infantryman assigned to Company B, 1st Bn., 66th Armored Regt. “Seeing their enthusiasm about everything we do reminded me why I joined the Army …”
Students then visited soldiers from 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, and their M109 Paladin, a self-propelled artillery vehicle, at another station. They climbed inside the driver’s seat and back, where they learned the different components of the weapons and tried to manually rotate the turret.
At a third station, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, brought their Improved Outer Tactical Vests and Advanced Combat Helmets for the children to wear.
Troops strapped vests and helmets on each child to illustrate what soldiers wear during training. After putting on the vests, the children ran a race in pairs to see who could run fastest wearing the personal protective equipment.
Soldiers spoke with the children about the Army and answered any questions the students could think to ask.
“I didn’t know what to expect when the children came here, so I was nervous about what to talk about,” said Pfc. Kenyada Payton, a food service specialist assigned to Forward Support Company, 1st Bn, 22nd Inf. Regt. “When we spoke with the children, they told us about their goals and how they want to be like their parents.”
At other stations, children learned about various weapons, military vehicles and played games with the soldiers.
“For some of these kids, this could be the one thing that makes up their mind to join the military,” said Bailey, a native of Marietta, Ga., and recurring volunteer for community events.
Soldiers really enjoyed this event, and it was great to see so many children take an interest in what they do, said Peyton, a native of Biloxi, Miss., whose daughter is a student among the visiting schools.
"Raider" Brigade is a family-friendly brigade, and it means a lot to have organizations and events tailored to the military family, she said.