MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Splash! Children squealed with delight as a well-aimed ball hit its target to cause a lifeguard to plummet into a dunk tank. Music from a local radio station punctuated the joyous din of children’s laughter as they enjoyed carnival-style games during the Family Fun Fitness Festival at the Commissary and Home Store parking lots April 17 and 18.
The festival offered more than just games, it was also an outlet of information for Combat Center parents to learn about local emergency and recreational services, safety and family fitness.
Despite the blaring sun and heat, many families attended the two-day health hoopla, to see what the installation is doing to enhance their physical and mental fitness and family well-being.
Even though every American military installation around the world is required by the Department of Defense and the Defense Commissary Agency to host the fitness festival, Niki McBain, the Marine Corps Community Services coordinator, said the Combat Center’s festival holds a special distinction this year.
“I am very proud because we are the very first installation worldwide to kick it off,” said McBain, from Jensen Beach, Fla. “We have so many groups teaming up together to ensure this event provides as much information as possible.”
MCCS Semper Fit, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the American Red Cross, Combat Center Aquatics, the Combat Center Fire Department and the Paintball Park were some of the organizations present.
The Coast Guard also made an appearance with a boat and water safety booth.
A plethora of activities and competitions geared toward all ages kept the party rolling. One of the more popular activities was in the paintball tent. Children watched in awe as combat-hardened Marines peppered targets with splatters of paint. A few brave children even stepped forward to receive a few tips on how to fire a paintball gun accurately and safely.
“I did really good at shooting the paintball gun,” said 6-year-old Ryan Gendron, as he pantomimed shooting targets. “I got the target ten times!”
The dunk tank, supervised by lifeguards from the Combat Center’s Aquatics section, also drew a crowd. Children dunked Marine in a barrel of water and signed up for swim lessons all in one stop.
Sheila Gendron, Ryan’s mother, said she was more excited to learn about all the free resources and activities available aboard the Combat Center. She said she never knew these were available before attending the festival.
“This is wonderful because a lot of us can’t afford this type of life outside the military,” said Gendron, an Orange County, Calif., native. “This event shows us the cheap or free way to be healthy.”
In conjunction with the festival, Alan Friedman, the divisional sales manager of the Marine Corps Exchange, said the exchange hosted a discount for all fitness supplies and sportswear, and the Commissary was holding a case lot sale.
Fore more information on living healthy lifestyles or to find out more about free fitness programs offered aboard the Combat Center, visit http://www.mccs29palms.com.