MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT --
Cherry Point hosted a tour of the installation June 12 for the New Bern Police Department’s eighth annual summer camp program.
The program is aimed at under privileged youth within the city of New Bern between the ages of 8 and 12 whose parents cannot afford to send their children to a traditional summer camp.
“We want to reach out to the young kids who don’t have the opportunity or money to attend a regular summer camp,” said military police officer Donald A. McInnis, the school resource officer at New Bern High School. “It’s a good thing to expose the kids to things they have never seen.”
McInnis said that coming out to Cherry Point is good for the children because they have no idea what to expect.
“The last time we were in Cherry Point was back in 2009,” said McInnis. “The tour of Cherry Point has always been the highlight of our previous camps because the kids really enjoy coming out and seeing the Marines and aircraft.”
The children visited Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting where they got to see the fire trucks and spray the fire hose.
They also visited Marine Transport Squadron 1 where they viewed a static display of Pedro.
“We wanted to give them an idea of what we do in the military,” said Master Sgt. Marianno Llantada, the crash chief with Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting. “We let them spray the hose, see what we do and give them knowledge about the military rather than what they see in the movies.”
Apart from the visit to the air station, the summer camp also has several recreational activities such as dodgeball, roller-skating, ice skating and going to the movies.
The program has educational instruction in life-skills such as money management, personal hygiene, conflict resolution, bullying, communications skills and civic responsibility.
“We hope to teach them something that will touch their lives,” said McInnis. “We see these kids come through the high schools and middle schools and they come up to us and say ‘I remember you from day camp.’ It gives them a contact to be able to come up to us and talk.”
Llantada believes that one of the children could be a future Marine.
“It’s great that we are doing this,” said Llantada. “It’s great to let the community know what we do because you never know; one of these kids could be the next person to join the Marine Corps.”
With a little extra down time, Llantada has been able to plan his part of the tour and make it as positive as possible for the children.
The summer camp is scheduled to tour the installation again June 19, 26, July 10, 24, 31, August 7 and 14.
“Cherry Point has always been receptive to us,” said McInnis. “They have always been a great help.”