SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
The Schriever Air Force Base School Age Care program invited the Ellicott Summer Camp participants to the installation for a trio of events to help enhance the relationship between the two programs and the programming available for base youth.
“I think bringing the Ellicott kids out here was a good opportunity to support the community,” said Vicki Rygiel, SAC coordinator. “It builds community among our students and the Ellicott students, provides the opportunity to develop social skills with kids they may not know and helps the youth develop on an individual basis as well.”
The groups first combined for a HawkQuest raptor presentation June 22, then competed alongside each other the next day during an Olympic Day event. Finally, the groups concluded their cooperative experiment with a field day June 27.
“I think all the youth had a good time,” Rygiel said. “They got to experience fun events to develop strong minds and bodies.”
The collaborative effort paid dividends for the Ellicott program as well.
“It really takes some of the pressure off us to find activities the kids can do (in the school building),” said Donte Stewart, Ellicott summer program director. “It really helps with planning because it’s three half-days we spent at Schriever.”
The HawkQuest demonstration introduced students to a variety of birds of prey, including Harris hawks, Aplomaldo falcons and American bald eagles. The HawkQuest staff explained how wingspan, talons, beaks and flight style all contribute to the raptors’ ability to hunt.
For Olympic Day, the youth were divided into groups and assigned a country. Each group carried its country’s flag with it from event to event.
The day kicked off with an opening ceremony presided over by Col. Stephen Slade, Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the 50th Space Wing commander, who led the youth in saying the Pledge of Allegiance and offered a bit of encouragement as they prepared to compete.
“This is a great opportunity for you to understand what the real Olympic Games are like,” he said. “I want to wish everyone luck and represent your countries well.”
Once the opening ceremony concluded, students went to one of three locations on the base, the soccer field, fitness center or Tierra Vista community center pool, to compete. Volunteers from Schriever were stationed at each location to lead the events.
“A lot of credit needs to be given to the volunteers who came out,” Rygiel said. “We couldn’t have done it without the volunteers, they really helped the kids enjoy the activities.”
During the field day, students had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of games and presentations. Capture the Flag, disc golf, football toss and jump ropes provided a physical experience, while sidewalk chalk allowed creative expression and presentations from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoomobile, Schriever Fire Department and El Paso County Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol expanded minds.
“The goal of the core values for the School Age Care program is to develop the whole child,” Rygiel said.
Both Rygiel and Stewart thought the collaborative events not only provided great opportunities for the youth, but served to build the relationship between Schriever and Ellicott.
“The collaboration went really well,” Stewart said. “I think it works great for building the relationship.”
“The opportunity to approach these youth who are non-military on a fun day clarifies that everybody’s the same,” Rygiel said. “We’re all families and we all get along.”
The Schriever youth played a big role in the collaborative events running smoothly as well.
“They were all polite, friendly and accepting of our kids,” Stewart said.
Rygiel had even higher praise.
“I was really proud of the kids from Schriever for being good hosts,” she said. “Military kids were intermixed with both programs. I saw SAC kids in the Ellicott program helping those kids. They were ambassadors for Schriever as well. I was really impressed.”