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Camp Freedom strengthens island youth

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - School is out and summer's in. While there are many ways our island's youth are spending their summer break some of them are participating in the Guam National Guard's 9th "Camp Freedom" summer program, which motto is "To Build Resiliency By Strengthening Our Youth".

Camp Freedom, Matapang Team Leader, Master Sergeant Lisa Cruz said, "In the past we had two week sessions with a hundred kids we take them out we do activities we have a sleep over, but since the deployment of the recent national guard of about 600 soldiers we've decided to give more opportunity for kids to come out and experience the Camp Freedom."

Each session this summer is one week long and is now in its second session with 100 children enrolled.  "We take them out we do activities sports activities today we are here unfortunately it's a little overcast but we are suppose to do some kite flying we did a beach cleanup at the Asan Beach Park in hopes to give back to the community," she said.

Many of the children involved in Camp Freedom are the sons and daughters of deployed soldiers. "A bulk of them I'd say at least 70% to 80% them are from deployed soldiers and it's not just the deployed from the 600 we have smaller units like the SFAT team and some from the Air National Guard that are if not currently deployed have returned or are soon to be deployed," she said.

It is programs such as this, that help children who's lives are disrupted by the deployment of a parent, as she said, "One of the big things is sharing experiences with kids that also have a parent or two that are deployed they get to speak out how they are feeling share their emotions but also we try to keep them engaged with activities."

Master Sergeant Cruz says that in previous sessions children made video post cards for their deployed parents but for the most part the children are kept engaged with activities to keep their minds off their parent or parents being gone. 

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