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Base Lake hosts special summer camp

Nine year-old Chris Stewart and Offutt volunteer U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Wroegler navigate their canoe around the Offutt Base Lake during the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb.    This is the second year Offutt’s Exceptional Family Member Program has put on the camp to inspire the youth and enhance their confidence.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Nine year-old Chris Stewart and Offutt volunteer U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Wroegler navigate their canoe around the Offutt Base Lake during the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb. This is the second year Offutt’s Exceptional Family Member Program has put on the camp to inspire the youth and enhance their confidence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Eight year-old Michael “Mikey” Holt draws back his bow, with the assistance of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Unick, a volunteer from Team Offutt, during the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb. The children spend two days at day camp doing several activities designed to enhance confidence and team building skills.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Eight year-old Michael “Mikey” Holt draws back his bow, with the assistance of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Unick, a volunteer from Team Offutt, during the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb. The children spend two days at day camp doing several activities designed to enhance confidence and team building skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Six year-old Jordan Baker works with geometric shapes to make an abstract fish while participating in team building exercises at the Offutt Base Lake while attending the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb.  This is the second year Offutt’s Exceptional Family Member Program has hosted Camp Offutt.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Six year-old Jordan Baker works with geometric shapes to make an abstract fish while participating in team building exercises at the Offutt Base Lake while attending the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb. This is the second year Offutt’s Exceptional Family Member Program has hosted Camp Offutt. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Volunteers from Offutt Air Force Base, Cabela’s and Easter Seals assist kids fishing off the Base Lake docks as part of the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb.  This is the second Camp Offutt put on by Team Offutt’s Exceptional Family Member Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Volunteers from Offutt Air Force Base, Cabela’s and Easter Seals assist kids fishing off the Base Lake docks as part of the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb. This is the second Camp Offutt put on by Team Offutt’s Exceptional Family Member Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Eight year-old Michael “Mikey” Holt takes aim at the bulls-eye while honing his archery skills during the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb.  The children spend two days at camp doing several activities from archery to boating.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Eight year-old Michael “Mikey” Holt takes aim at the bulls-eye while honing his archery skills during the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb. The children spend two days at camp doing several activities from archery to boating. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Eleven year-old Elisabeth Holt proudly displays the Blue Gill she caught off the docks near the Cast-A-Way boat house at the Offutt Base Lake while attending the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb.  This is the second year that the camp has been provided to military dependants with special needs.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Eleven year-old Elisabeth Holt proudly displays the Blue Gill she caught off the docks near the Cast-A-Way boat house at the Offutt Base Lake while attending the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb. This is the second year that the camp has been provided to military dependants with special needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Fourteen year-old Alyssa Pettit, sends her arrow flying with the watchful assistance of Offutt volunteer U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tiffany Lambert while participating in the archery segment of the two-day Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12, Offutt AFB, Neb.  Archery was just one of several events for the children to learn and have fun.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Fourteen year-old Alyssa Pettit, sends her arrow flying with the watchful assistance of Offutt volunteer U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tiffany Lambert while participating in the archery segment of the two-day Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12, Offutt AFB, Neb. Archery was just one of several events for the children to learn and have fun. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Eight year-old Michael “Mikey” Holt, hops around a bounce castle while attending the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb.    The children spend two days at camp doing several activities from archery to boating and enjoying a pizza party for lunch.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Eight year-old Michael “Mikey” Holt, hops around a bounce castle while attending the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb. The children spend two days at camp doing several activities from archery to boating and enjoying a pizza party for lunch. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Nine year-old Chris Stewart and Offutt volunteer U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Wroegler navigate their canoe around the Offutt Base Lake during the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb.  This is the second year of the day camp which was founded by Offutt’s Exceptional Family Member Program was put on to enhance skills and build friendships.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Nine year-old Chris Stewart and Offutt volunteer U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Wroegler navigate their canoe around the Offutt Base Lake during the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb. This is the second year of the day camp which was founded by Offutt’s Exceptional Family Member Program was put on to enhance skills and build friendships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Eight year-old Mathew Baxter loads an arrow into a bow with the assistance of Team Offutt volunteer Sam Hines while attending the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb.  The two-day camp hosted by the Exceptional Family Member Program enhances teamwork abilities and builds friendships.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released))
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Eight year-old Mathew Baxter loads an arrow into a bow with the assistance of Team Offutt volunteer Sam Hines while attending the Exceptional Family Members Program’s Camp Offutt July 12 at Offutt AFB, Neb. The two-day camp hosted by the Exceptional Family Member Program enhances teamwork abilities and builds friendships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released))

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Even with all the day-to-day activities available for children, there are those with special needs who are sometimes left out. The Exceptional Family Member Program recognizes this and created Camp Offutt to put those children first.

This year's second annual event for Team Offutt family members with special needs took place July 12 - 13 at the Base Lake.

"Camp Offutt is one of the few special needs camps that are actually held on an Air Force base," said Michelle Pridell, EFMP coordinator. "By utilizing base volunteers and partnering with Easter Seals Nebraska for specially trained counselors working with the kids, we were able to put on this special needs day camp, and our kids are enjoying it."

Activities for the kids ranged from archery, fishing, boating, arts and crafts and a team challenge.

"Being able to help the kids with fishing is an experience I feel so lucky to have gotten," said Emily Hilton, Cabela's volunteer. "Seeing each of them proud of what they had accomplished and hearing how they couldn't wait to tell their family made my day every time."

The excitement from Camp Offutt will be something these youngsters will not soon forget.

"[My daughter] Arianna, had a great time for her first summer camp - she will remember it always," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cynthia Vetter.

"I cannot express enough how much camp has meant to our daughter, Carly," said Linda Moore, wife of Air Force retired Lonnie Moore. "She was so happy to have an actual camp experience, trying new activities like archery and boating. She was just bubbling over telling her grandfather about it - what a wonderful, wonderful experience, thank you."

The part of the Camp Offutt experience that excites the volunteers and leaders like Pridell is the appreciation and enjoyment the kids display.

"I would just like to say that this is the most awesome place I ever went to for camping," said Nathan Miles Elsbury, son of DoD civilian Richard Elsbury.

"My favorite part of Camp Offutt is boating," said Elisabeth June Holt, daughter of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Wright.

Camp Offutt is a special place for these children to gather and enjoy themselves and experience new and exciting things. In order for all of those things to happen it takes a lot of coordination by the EFMP office and time dedicated by volunteers.

"There are a lot of people I know that would be interested in volunteering and I would recommend it," said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Jamerson, a volunteer from U.S. Strategic Command. "This is a worthwhile cause and there is always a need for more volunteers."

There were volunteers from Offutt, Cabela's, Offutt Intramural Archery League as well as Michael Harrelson of the Rose Theater and Gary Grable from the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.

"We are so grateful for all the volunteers and would like to thank them for coming out to make Camp Offutt so special," said Pridell. "I would also like to challenge Team Offutt to come together and provide more volunteers for next year's event."

"I would also like to send my most sincere appreciation to the crew of Outdoor Recreation for the outstanding support they provided leading up to and during Camp Offutt, she added."