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NEWS | Sept. 12, 2023

More than 100 attend Kentucky National Guard Youth Camp

By Capt. Cody Stagner, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

More than 100 children of Kentucky Army and Air National Guard Service members attended the Kentucky National Guard Youth Camp in Nancy, from July 30 to August 4.

Supported by more than 40 volunteers and the Lake Cumberland 4-H Camp staff, the event promised both inspiration and challenge to its young participants.

The KYARNG Military and Family Services, Child and Youth Services coordinators and volunteers, including Ms. Natalie Shaner and Sgt. 1st Class Holly Eubanks, did a fantastic job planning and hosting the event at Lake Cumberland,” said Lt. Col. Esther Daniels Platt, director for KYARNG Military Family Services.

Activities ranged from rock wall climbing and archery to lessons on wellness, resiliency, and outdoor survival. Platt noted the quality instruction, emphasizing that the camp was a “safe place for learning and fun.”
Natalie Shaner, the lead coordinator for the program, said having a military-themed program “develops a better understanding of military values and customs in hopes to build a stronger connection to the child’s Service member.”

Drawing parallels to military boot camps, young participants marched and sang cadences.

It’s a joy to connect military youth and provide resources that nurture their growth into young adults,” said Shaner.

Every activity was crafted to teach life skills in an engaging manner, with themes like leadership, teamwork, and respect for service.

The event, although successful, was met with challenges.

The biggest challenge we faced this year was recruiting volunteers,” said Shaner. “Thankfully, we were fortunate to have several parents join the team. Their support made this year’s camp possible.”

Staff Sgt. Monique Vaden, parent and first-time volunteer at the camp, cherished the experience: "This is an amazing experience for me, and I know it is for my platoon and my son.

According to Vaden, the greatest challenge faced by her campers was meeting everyone for the first time.

Some youth have been here multiple times and know what to expect, but it still takes that ice breaker on the first day to help everyone meet and feel welcome,” she said.

The recruiter from the Recruiting and Retention Battalion believes her background as a Soldier helped earn camper respect, enhancing their overall experience.

Assistant Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Brian Wertzler, and the spouse of the Adjutant General, Karen Lamberton, visited and spoke with the campers at Lake Cumberland.

Lamberton presented challenge coins to standout campers on behalf of her husband, Maj. Gen. Haldane B. Lamberton.

Wertzler, addressing the youths there, said, “Your parents, no matter if they are Army or Air Force, are heroes. Within our country, less than one percent of our population serves in uniform. They serve as the one percent, so I want you to recognize them as heroes when you get home.”

Wertzler then praised the children of these uniformed Service members, stating they, too, serve their country as heroes when their loved ones are away.

The 2023 camp left a lasting impression, gifting participants with memories, friendships, and invaluable life lessons.


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