The sun peaked through the clouds March 10 as 170 kids gathered at the Sportsmen’s Center to participate in the Trinity Oaks Youth Outdoor Event during Spring Clinic.
Trinity Oaks is an organization, that uses outdoor activities, such as hunting and fishing, to give back to others and make a difference in their lives. This was the first time they had hosted an event on any military base.
Ashley Hill, Youth and School Age Care Administrator with Child and Youth Services, was excited to have Fort Hood youth experience things that they may not be able to experience in a normal setting.
“The youth had an awesome day filled with fun. They had the opportunity to shoot skeet at the trap range, hit the targets at the .22 range, ride UTVs, sharpen their skills at the archery range, and learn about Texas wildlife,” Hill said.
Doug McEwen, a volunteer at Trinity Oaks, was excited to host an event at Fort Hood to provide a fun experience to military kids.
“Gary Renick is a Purple Heart recipient and involved with our veterans events. We have done some youth days similar to this one and when we were approached to do one for military youth it made sense since we support both youth and military personnel,” McEwen said. “Our goal is to continue to expand and have more youth days in all the areas we serve.”
Copperas Cove sophomore Jose Sanchez wanted to participate in the event because, well, it sounded fun. He enjoyed the all-terrain vehicle activity the most. Kids were loaded in an ATV and driven around a small track.
“It was thrilling; it was pretty cool,” Sanchez said.
He said it is important to have events like the Trinity Oaks Outdoor Event for military kids because it supports them and gives them something fun to do.
“Sometimes kids need something to get their mind off of stuff,” Sanchez said.
Samaya Cox, a fourth grader at Meadows Elementary, was excited to experience several new activities and catch a glimpse into some of the things that the Army does for fun and to train. She enjoyed the rifle shooting the most.
“I’ve only done three activities so far and my favorite was using the rifle because I was able to aim and got to be able to do it,” Cox said.
While out on the range, she was assisted by Sgt. Felix Reutiman, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. She was appreciative of his patience in helping her learn how to use the rifle properly.
“He was very nice, and he demonstrated how to actually use it and took time to help me use it,” Cox said.
She thinks it’s important to host events like this for military kids so they can understand some of what their parents do.
“It’s important because all of us, one of our parents are in the military, and I think it’s good so that we know what our parents do, we know that we can also do that too,” Cox said.
Many of the kids experienced something new that was out of their comfort zone, and took it in stride.
“For some of the youth, these activities were a first. I asked one child if he had ever shot a gun before and he responded with ‘Yes, a Nerf gun.’ This was an opportunity that most of the youth were out of their normal element and got them outside,” Hill said.
“Seeing them go from fear, to ‘I can do this,’ to ‘Wow, I hit the bullseye or the 3D target on archery or broke a clay pigeon in midair with a shotgun,’ definitely challenged them,” McEwen added.
McEwen also added that it was a great opportunity to show them how to properly handle weapons and teach them that they are nothing to be afraid of.
“There is no more need to be afraid of a rifle than a car. If you are taught how and operate them properly, they are very useful,” McEwen said.
McEwen considers the event to be a success because the kids enjoyed their day and at the end of the day, they got outside and enjoyed the great outdoors. Trinity Oaks was happy to provide Fort Hood youth with new experiences that might turn into hobbies that they pursue for the rest of their lives.
“As we were talking at the end, even folks on the base said the kids are around a lot of these things, but most have never experienced firing a weapon or riding in an ATV themselves,” McEwen said. “We work a lot with military personnel and their families and know that when someone in the family serves our nation, the entire family is sacrificing. If we can give them a fun day with new experiences, hopefully we can make a difference in their lives.”
Hill was thankful to all of the organizations that worked together to provide the kids with such a great experience during their spring break.
“Trinity Oaks provided a full day of different activities for our military youth. In addition to Trinity Oaks, All American, Knocked and Loaded, Big Hoss BBQ, Rudy’s, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and the Fort Hood Game Warden partnered with MWR to make this event happen,” Hill said. “These partnerships provided opportunities that would not normally be available and this Youth Outdoor Event is a wonderful example of how important partnerships are for our military community. The youth at the event ranged from 9-18 years old and they all absolutely loved it.”