Military Kids Get the Camp Life
A Chico State program is giving new meaning to the term “base camp.”
For years, Chico State Camp Adventure has been sending students to military bases in more than 20 countries all over the world to work directly with children and youth.
The program’s main mission is to provide summer programs for military children, an experience many were missing before the program was started in 1985. Camp Adventure gives children and teenagers living on military bases a traditional summer camp experience complete with crafts, songs, games, activities and recreational athletics to help enrich their lives. College students from across the country act as camp leaders throughout the 10- to 11-week program. While its biggest programs are over the summer, Camp Adventure also offers fall and spring internships.
Over the past few years, Jason Morgan, student coordinator with Chico State Camp Adventure, has been to Sicily, Italy; Seoul, South Korea; and Oahu, Hawaii. He finds traveling all over the world to help military families is personally fulfilling because he brings quintessential experiences to so many children’s lives.
“We are there to fill a void the military has, because many times they’re unable to provide these services,” Morgan said. “Being able to support military families and their children, some of which have never even lived in the United States, is really rewarding.”
Morgan, a senior recreation major, sees many professional benefits in being a part of Camp Adventure, including networking with representatives from the U.S. Department of Defense, the world’s largest employer; receiving 12 units of college credit from the University of Northern Iowa, where the program is headquartered; and gaining hands-on experience working with youth and children. For Morgan, his best experience was bringing what is a normal summer experience for most children to those living out-of-the-ordinary lives.
“So many of us here in the states have the opportunity to do summer programs and sports and things like that, but when you’re growing up in a different country, where can you do that?” Morgan said. “When you’re an American who only speaks English in a foreign country, there’s not a whole lot of opportunities.”
Last year, Chico State sent 30 students to countries all over the world through Camp Adventure. One of those students was Camille Sabbadini, a senior liberal studies major who spent the summer in Beijing, China, working through the U.S. embassy there. Her experience was a little different: Because the program was hosted through an embassy, she got to live off site in an apartment complex that allowed her to fully immerse herself in the culture.
“I learned that I can do anything,” she said. “I learned to step outside my comfort zone. That’s how I grew as a person, I put myself in uncomfortable situations and it became this great, enriching experience.”
While the program caterers to American children, Camp Adventure opened up the program to any embassy in Beijing, which gave Sabbadini the opportunity to work with kids from all over the world—a useful experience as she prepares to enter a teaching credential program.
“I learned how to communicate with people other than through language. I had to think outside the box to get a child to do something,” she said. “It’s a good way to travel and see the world but if you want to work with children, it’s a great way to get experience while experiencing the world.”
Students interested in joining Camp Adventure can email email@example.com. The deadline to apply for the summer 2016 program is December 3.