Youngsters take over barracks with Army-style activities
PUBLISHED: 18:10 08 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:30 09 August 2018
Run by the Army Welfare Service and Suffolk Coastal Council for 11 years, Operation Camouflage is a chance for children of armed forces staff and children living or studying in Woodbridge to have fun and get out of their shells for four days in the summer.
Rock Barracks has been rocking Woodbridge this week as groups of children from Suffolk and Colchester get stuck into Operation Camouflage.
It’s a jam-packed schedule of 26 activities over four days and no two are the same – Tuesday had dodgeball, Wednesday had rock climbing and today the children were let loose on the high ropes.
Harry, a 13 year-old student at Farlingaye High School in the middle of a laser tag shoot-out, has attended Operation Camouflage for the last four years.
He said: “You’re never bored.
“My parents just got an email about it when I was eight and signed me up.
“Now he’s old enough to come, my brother Joe has been coming for the last two years too.”
The four-day camp is as much about having fun as working together, so team-building exercises are dotted in among the activities and the organisers make sure no child is left out.
The whole experience is kept ticking by volunteers from Woodbridge, Wattisham and Colchester garrisons – just like Michelle Dunn and Joll Philbert, watching a group play football.
Ms Dunn, who works with the Army Welfare service in Colchester, said: “It’s been really good. We watch the kids to see if they are communicating and working as a team. There’s been no bickering at all.”
In the arts session, the children were learning to make their own abstract art on canvas to be taken home at the end of the day.
Michelle Morgan, community support development officer at the Woodbridge station, said: “It’s such a big day for some of the younger kids, so it’s good to have at least one calmer activity - we’ve had t-shirt printing and graffiti art in the past.
Children of army servicemen and women, local schoolchildren, young people in care and some young people know to the authorities take part together, leaving the outside world at the gate and playing together.
Suffolk Coastal council officer Sarah Shinnie said:
“Once you’ve got everyone in their coloured tops you don’t know who has come from where – that’s the beauty of it.”