The sound of running feet filled the wooded trails, as dozens of children deployed on a mission seeking fun.
Members of the 181st Intelligence Wing’s Family Readiness Group unloaded a bus full of children into the 80 acres of woods at Indiana State University’s Field Campus south of Brazil. Saturday morning marked their regular “Kids Deploy” program, one of several activities the group hosts for children of the base’s military personnel.
Linda Ackerman, president of the FRG, said 43 children participated in the all-day event Saturday. Dressed in tie-dyed T-shirts with “Kids Deploy” on them, participants ranged in age from 6 to 17.
“Every two years we do a Kids Deploy,” she said, adding the group also takes the children places ranging from the Terre Haute and Indianapolis children’s museums, to Conner Prairie near Noblesville.
The 181st Intelligence Wing is housed at Hulman Air Field in Terre Haute, and as it isn’t an active duty base, the children of its personnel are spread out geographically, with some living as far away as Nashville, Tenn. The Family Readiness Group hosts activities to foster a sense of community that might be more easily found if the children all lived on a base together, she said.
“This way they realize they’re not alone,” she said.
The Family Readiness Group serves as a conduit for families needing help, with access to resources ranging from spiritual to financial, she added.
Her husband, Chief Douglas Ackerman, came along Saturday morning to help. A 34-year member of the military, he said activities such as Kids Deploy go a long way with the kids.
“So the kids can interact with each other, form friendships and keep in contact with each other, form some good bonds,” he said.
Dana Stephens, wife of Col. Sean Stephens, said this weekend marked the first time Kids Deploy visited the ISU Field Campus. From unloading from the bus to receiving instructions, the kids participated in exercises designed to simulate an activated unit.
“It’s to show them what their parents go through when they deploy,” she said, noting the day’s mission was “to have fun.”
At the end of the day, participants received dog tags, a certificate of completion and a backpack full of school supplies. The group wrote their addresses and personal information on a community sign-up sheet so they can maintain contact throughout the year.
Caoilinn Carey, 17, and her sister Cialo, 5, came from Frankfort to participate.
“This is my third one,” Caoilinn said. “It’s a fun activity to do. Something different.”
Entering her senior year at Frankfort High School, she said military service might be in her future as she plans to attend ISU and study nursing.
Kevin McIntire, 12, Brazil, said walking around the trails “was kind of fun.”
The North Clay Middle School football player said he was looking forward to working the balancing beams later in the day.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.