2018-08-01 / Shorts

Rank and Smile

Area children step up for fun at annual Boot Camp for Kids
Will Desautelle

Photos by PA Military MuseumPhotos by PA Military Museum

Details, communication and teamwork: That’s what Pennsylvania Military Museum educator and curator Joe Horvath highlights as the essential qualities for soldiers going through boot camp — and the same goes for children.

For the eighth year in a row, the Pennsylvania Military Museum hosts Boot Camp for Kids, an exciting day of competitive military training on Aug. 4.

Kids between the ages of 9 and 13 who have an interest in the military will have the opportunity to experience a full day of simulated military boot camp run by local active duty military personnel from the United States Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

“The whole point of the program is for the kids to pay attention to detail, communicate with each other and work as a team,” says Horvath. “It is meant to strip you of your individuality in real boot camp and build you up from there in real uniform.”

Each year, the camp draws roughly 30-45 campers (registration ended July 20), or recruits, who are assigned into three different platoons that compete against one another for “super platoon” status. Each platoon participates in three stations: physical training, marching and military etiquette, and rifle drill.
And if boot camp seems too tough, organizers assure it is, after all, “for kids.”

“Nobody has ever said we are cruel to them, and the parents are in fact very happy with how the program is run,” Horvath says. “The punishments we give kids during the day are not severe, as they are in real boot camp. They are instead meant to teach important life skills.”

One of the volunteers handing out those life lessons is U.S. Marine Col. Chuck Risio, who will be back for his second year as a volunteer director at the camp.

“One of the points we hope to bring up to the kids is to pay attention to detail, work as a team, and communicate with each other, all of which are three very important skills in life in general,” Risio says.

“If you take a look at all of the successful people and companies in the world, they’ve all mastered those skills, so we want to emphasize them to the recruits throughout the day.”

Retired U.S. Army veteran Barry Farquar will bring his grandson, Ashur Carman, for his fifth and final year in the program. Farquar is quick to note that he does not force his grandson to attend the boot camp — in fact, he looks forward to attending the camp each year.

“[Horvath] and his team are awesome,” says Farquar. “The great thing they do every year is the teambuilding and getting the kids motivated. My grandson has really enjoyed every year he has gone.” •SCM

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