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Operation Military Kids Camp underway

A very special camp is underway at the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tafuna this week — “This is the ‘Unsung Heroes Operation Military Kids’ — or OMK 4-H Youth Camp” said Aufa’i Apulu Ropeti Areta, who is heading the program that is specifically tailored to dependents of military personnel.

Aufa’i is the American Samoa Community College (ASCC)- Community Natural Resources Associate Director and Principal Investigator for the program in American Samoa.

He noted that “this camp is specifically tailored for the dependents or the children of military personnel, of all branches, including the United States Coast Guard and the United States Army Reserve. It is also for the dependents or children of those who were killed or injured in action during the last two years — those are the eligibility requirements.”

The camp was organized by the ASCC and the University of Hawaii as a collaborative effort with other federal and local partners.

Aufa’i went on to say that this is great opportunity for the military youth in the camp to acquire knowledge and develop skills they will need to cope with the challenges and adversities of deployment.

The program, according to Aufa’i, is a combination of social, cultural, recreational and educational programs, that are facilitated collaboratively not only by the ASCC Community & Natural Resources and Land Grant staff, but also with the help of specialists from the OMK program at the University of Hawaii, North Carolina State University, the local Reserve, Army Reserve in Hawaii CYSS Program, local volunteers and community partners.

Said Aufa’i, “We are providing participants with an opportunity to become resilient. We are looking at them to learn social skills, coping skills, team work, communication and self advocacy.”

This is the first time this camp is being held here in American Samoa, he said. “The spouses and the children are ‘Unsung Heroes’ that is why we used the term as the theme for this camp. They are heroes because of the challenges they face.”

The main sponsors of this program are the United States Department of Defense and the United States Department of Agriculture.

The camp started on  Monday, June 18 and will run through to this coming Friday the 22nd, with a starting time of 8:00 a.m. each day.

Some of the activities throughout the week will include arts and crafts — including traditional arts — cadence competition, learning about edible plants, making tie-dye shirts, doing umu preparation, and games and sports such as tug of war, soccer and dodgeball.

For more information you can contact the American Samoa Community College-Community & Natural Resources Division at 699-1575 ext. 242-243 or contact SFC. Pele or Rachael Manning at 699-9216.