4-H Impact: Operation Military Kids Camp

December 10, 2012 in Impact Stories

Issue:

Many children in Delaware have one and sometimes both parents called into action who can be gone from one to eighteen months. In 2012-2013 Delaware Reserve and National Guard members are facing one of the largest deployments in many years.

Response:

Operation: Military Kids (OMK) is the U.S. Army’s collaborative effort with America’s communities through the Cooperative Extension System, particularly the 4-H and youth development program, to support the children and youth affected by deployment. This initiative was officially launched in April 2005. Since its inception, OMK has touched thousands of  military youth in Delaware and provided information to thousands more community members about the issues affecting military families across Delaware.

In Delaware OMK is an ongoing community support system for families, particularly children of parents in the National Guard and the Army Reserves. It provides an outlet with recreational, educational and social opportunities for military youth, which helps them to deal with their parents being in a risky atmosphere.

Through a grant from the Department of Defense, the Delaware 4-H OMK Program offered six camps to 191 youth ages 6-17 whose parents are in the reserve or National Guard in 2012. The purpose of these camps were to teach the military youth life skills and coping skills to assist them as parents or loved ones deployed.

Impact:

The camps were evaluated by the Virginia Tech Community and Family Research Lab based on surveys developed by the American camping Association. The results showed that campers perceived improvement for themselves in all six domains measured. Mean scale scores for all six domains placed Delaware campers above the national norms, in the 70th-90th percentiles. The six domains were:

  • Friendship
  • Independence
  • Responsibility
  • Teamwork
  • Family Citizenship
  • Competence

In addition 93% of campers agreed that participating in camp reduced their stress and 97% of campers had a Social Support score of 4.0 or greateer, indicating they they agree or strongly agree they had social support.