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Base Lake hosts special summer camp

  • Published
  • By David R. Hopper
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
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."