MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – --
Every year, April is known as the Month of the Military Child
, and this year the Lifelong Learning Library kicked off the month with a carnival for all Combat Center
children April 1 at Felix Field.
Hundreds of children attended the event, moving from one game to another, collecting tickets, winning prizes and eating free food.
Children who participated in a game received one ticket, and two if they won. Many of the games were altered to give younger children a chance to redeem tickets for prizes. The more tickets they turned in, the bigger the prizes they could receive, said Claire Stults, a librarian at the Combat Center’s Lifelong Learning Library, who helped set up the event.
The games included ring toss, bowling, hula hoops, basketball, a sack race, egg race, target game, and a parachute game. Face painting was available along with free hotdogs, popcorn and cotton candy.
“Events like these are a great help in keeping families together and involved with each others’ lives,” said Pvt. Gene Zipprich, a Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School student who volunteered to help with the event, and an Omaha, Neb., native. “I have a child myself, and I know if you let kids do their own thing they go nuts. We just give them the basic idea of the game, and they take off and go wild.”
Marine Corps Community Services also set up booths for parents. FOCUS [Families OverComing Under Stress] and L.I.N.K.S. [Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge, Skills] were there to provide information to spouses and children on how to cope during deployments.
Many families brought blankets and enjoyed a picnic before joining in the festivities.
“We decided to hold the carnival during spring break to give the whole family something to do together,” said Stults, a Franklin, Tenn., native. “This also provides a distraction for children and moms who are experiencing a father or husband’s deployment.”
Ethan Dixon, 4, whose father is deployed to Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, worked his way to all the games, and even hit a bull’s-eye in the target game.
“I liked knocking down [bowling] pins and the basketball the best,” said Dixon, a Vinita, Okla., native.
Although the carnival was scheduled to end at 1 p.m., sponsors kept it running until all the prizes were gone, giving the children as much time as possible to enjoy a day that was all about them.