Children of Fallen Soldiers Enjoy a Camp to Remember
Many children who have lost a parent miss out on some of life's most important moments. Including receiving valuable instruction on things they'll need to know as they grow and mature.
A Soldier's Child Foundation (ASC) is dedicated to making sure that doesn't happen for children of fallen U.S. military members. Launched in 2008 by Daryl Mackin, the nonprofit organization is based in Smyrna, Tennessee.
They provide meaningful gifts for approximately 3,000 of these children every birthday through age 18. ASC also hosts camps for the kids. And facilitates secondary and college scholarships.
One of the organization's camps is the brand-new Jack & Jill Camp. The three-day event was held for the first time on a beautiful weekend earlier this month at Camp YI (Youth Incorporated) in La Vergne, Tennessee.
4Patriots, which makes a monthly financial donation to ASC, was also involved. We provided a day's worth of our branded Survival Food for 28 attending kids, five mentors and six ASC staff members. And arranged for former Navy SEAL Cade Courtney to teach the children survival skills.
Working Up an Appetite
Other components of the camp included lessons on fishing, gardening, chopping wood and axe throwing. Plus birdhouse building and automotive instruction.
The kids, ages 9 to 17, also swam, played games and bowled. They sang around a campfire at night and attended a Sunday devotional.
And, of course, they ate. 4Patriots served a variety of breakfast foods. Including pancakes, eggs, potatoes and fruit. As well as lunch items such as mac and cheese and freeze-dried meat and vegetables. Plus cookie dough and brownie bites.
For dinner, we served “Frank’s Favorite” fettuccini Alfredo and more freeze-dried meat and vegetables. Dessert featured chocolate pudding. The kids raved about the food, including the pancakes, mac and cheese and cocoa. And, of course, the pudding.
Fire, Shelter and First-Aid Lessons
One of the most popular parts of the weekend was Cade's survival skills lessons. His sessions focused on three main areas: how to build a fire, how to create a shelter and basic first-aid skills.
In these hands-on sessions, the children gathered materials for fire building (dry grass, sticks, twigs and branches). They also built a shelter using a rain poncho and logs.
In addition, they went through various first-aid scenarios. Such as what to do if someone is found bleeding or unconscious. And how to stabilize a broken bone. As well as what's in a basic first-aid kit and what to do with it.
Cade used various fire-starter materials. Including three different kinds of lighters, fire starter sticks and magnesium. He also demonstrated basic shelter options. And walked through a first-aid kit and its contents.
Kids Are Now Better Prepared
In addition, he taught them what to include in a "go bag." Including the HaloXT tactical flashlight, multi-tools, rope, paracord, etc.
The kids showed considerable interest, asked great questions and had a lot of fun. Cade also made all the children promise that in one year they will have completed a CPR course.
He told them about two separate times when CPR knowledge allowed him to save a life. One was in a restaurant. The other was when he came upon a car accident.
The kids definitely picked up some important skills and knowledge. They will now have a better understanding about what to do if they're lost or hurt. Or if they find someone else who is.
Impressions to Last a Lifetime
“It’s amazing what they’re doing here with A Soldier’s Child,” Cade said. “So many guys I served with didn’t come home and I see how brutally difficult that is for their family. Their lives changed in an instant.
“What A Soldier’s Child is doing to help kids through that… they’re changing lives, they’re saving lives. Just to be part of that for even one day was awesome.”
Cade added that what the kids learned over the weekend could have lasting effects.
“If I made an impression on one kid who then says, ‘All right, I’m going to get my CPR training,’ and then down the road you find out this kid’s a doctor in an ER, how cool is that?
“Hopefully I made more than one impression, but it was an amazing day and a chance to let them know, ‘Hey, we care about you.’”
'Convicted in my spirit'
Daryl came up with the idea for ASC while preparing for his own 6-year-old son's birthday party.
While typing out the invitations, he looked up at a photo of his neighbor's son, Christian. Christian's father, Marc Golczynski, was a fallen soldier from the Iraq War.
Daryl had been looking at the work he was doing for his son's invitations as a "chore."
"I looked up at my wall and was immediately convicted in my spirit for my negative attitude," he said. "My heart turned to Christian, who will never be able to have a party planned by his dad."
How You Can Get Involved
ASC helps these kids live more courageous lives and makes sure they don't feel forgotten.
They will carry this burden for the rest of their lives. But ASC tries to bring a positive outlook to a bad situation.
4Patriots is proud to be associated with A Soldier's Child Foundation. The children of fallen U.S. soldiers deserve everything this fine organization supplies for them as they cope with a major loss in their lives.
Anyone wishing to donate to ASC may visit asoldierschild.org and click on "Ways to Donate."