From July 1-5, some very deserving children of active duty military personnel stationed at Camp Pendleton got a big dose of YMCA summer camp fun at a special week of Camp Operation Appreciation. Through a partnership established between the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA in Encinitas and the Armed Services YMCA of Camp Pendleton, 121 children were given the opportunity to experience this Y day camp at no cost to their families. All activities and lunches were underwritten through funds raised throughout the year and discounted rates from local vendors.
Each year, parents rush to register for this unique opportunity knowing that it will give their child a week of fun memories, an opportunity to hang out with peers who understand parent deployment and being in a military family, as well as new camp counselors to bond with and look up to as role models. On top of this, the parents know their child is taken care of by professionally trained staff and they have some time for themselves to escape their own stresses of the military lifestyle. One past participant wrote in an email to the YMCA staff that Camp Operation Appreciation helped her daughter out when her father was deployed because it was nice for her to have the opportunity of simply being a kid and not having to worry about her dad and his training schedule.
And the gratitude doesn’t end with the participating families. Catriona Breider, camp director for the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA, says, “The counselors come running to sign up for this week of camp every summer. They all want to do Camp Operation Appreciation because they really feel like they are helping out by making it a great week for each of these special kids.” (www.ecke.ymca.org)