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Camp for military kidsThe first is “Operation 4-H: Joint Forces at the Falls,” a week of4-H camp designed just for military kids. The camp is funded by agrant from the National 4-H headquarters, the U.S. Department ofAgriculture, U.S. Army Child and Youth Services, U.S. Air ForceFamily Member Programs and the UGA Colleges of Agricultural andEnvironmental Sciences and Family and Consumer Sciences.Set for July 17-21 at Wahsega 4-H Center in Dahlonega, Ga., thecamp costs campers just $25 for the week. It’s open to youth ages11 – 13 whose parent(s) are currently deployed, soon to be deployedor have recently returned from deployment by the National Guard,Air Guard, Army Reserve or any active duty branch of service.”This camp will especially benefit children of parents who arewhatwe call ‘suddenly military,'” said Mandy Marable, UGA Extension andState Military Liaison. “Suddenly military kids are those who,prior to this experience, have never experienced their guard orreserve parent being deployed. While our focus is heavily guard andreserve, we are opening the camp to any young person who has had aparent deployed.” In the past, these children’s parents have been soldiers who servetheir country by spending one weekend a month or one training weekeach summer away from home, Marable said.This is the second year the military kids camp will be held innorth Georgia. Houston County Extension, under the direction ofcounty Extension agent Peggy Bledsoe, previously offered a similarcamp experience for two years. By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaParades lined the streets and bright yellow ribbons adorned oaktrees when Georgia’s 48th Infantry Brigade returnedhome this month.As these families celebrated, others still wait for loved ones tocome home, and they continue to adjust to daily life withoutthem.With these families in mind, Georgia 4-H is offering two programsthrough Operation Military Kids, an organization for children whoseparents are, or have been, deployed. Hero thank you packsHero Packs, the second OMK program, is a service-learning projectthat pairs Georgia 4-H’ers with military kids across the state. “Hero Packs are care packages made to thank and salute childrenwith deployed parents for their sacrifices and contributions whiletheir parent is deployed in the service of our country,” Marablesaid.Hero Packs is a joint project between Georgia 4-H and the Boys&Girls Clubs of Georgia. Together the organizations will distribute900 backpacks across the state.A Hero Pack is a backpack filled with a variety of items rangingfrom disposable cameras, journals and pens to 4-H teddy bears andbandanas. The packs also include coping and adjustment material forthe student to share with their parent.Georgia 4-Hers also made 900 friendship bracelets to includein theHero Packs. And they wrote personal thank you letters to include,too.”One junior 4-Her wrote 50 letters,” Marable said. “He feltconnected to the project and other military kids because his fatheris deployed.”Marable says 4-H agents across the state are distributing half ofthe Hero Packs on behalf of Georgia 4-H. “The 4-H agents know the military families in theircommunities andcan give a face to the project,” she said. “Of course, each studentwho attends the Operation Joint Forces at the Falls camp will geta hero pack. Our goal is for these projects to help military kidsin our state cope with the adjustments they are going through.”For more information on either project, contact Georgia 4-H at706-542-4H4H (4444).