The Michigan 4‑H is reminding everyone that April is the Month of the Mil­itary Child. 

The Month of the Mil­itary Child was estab­lished in 1986 by former Defense Sec­retary Caspar Wein­berger, in order to under­score the role of mil­itary children in America. The Department of Defense Edu­cation Activity (DODEA) rec­om­mends certain activ­ities to honor these children during the month of April, such as hosting assem­blies, saluting mil­itary kids, and spreading awareness. The Michigan 4‑H, however, has taken a unique approach. 

Katelyn Golem­biewski, who helps with the 4‑H program out of Michigan State Uni­versity, explained the focus of this program.

“The 4‑H Mil­itary Part­nership creates oppor­tu­nities and pro­vides support to mil­itary-con­nected youth through 4‑H clubs and pro­grams, whether the youth live on or near an instal­lation, in our com­mu­nities, or on overseas instal­la­tions,” she said. “The Month of the Mil­itary Child is a time to honor and rec­ognize the sac­ri­fices that mil­itary fam­ilies make, with a spe­cific focus on the children of mil­itary members serving. Mil­itary fam­ilies may expe­rience chal­lenges related to deployment and rein­te­gration, moving around or other related chal­lenges that civilian fam­ilies may not experience.”

The Michigan 4‑H is putting on a five-week-long event through “the original scav­enger hunt app,” Goose­chase. As reported by the Hillsdale Daily News, activ­ities will take place between April 1 to April 30, with each week rep­re­senting one theme. Week one is an intro­duction, week two is called “basic training,” week three focuses on grat­itude, week four covers recog­nition and sac­rifice, and week five dis­cusses “mil­itary around the world.” 

The event is free, and par­tic­i­pants can earn points through the com­pletion of activ­ities and com­pe­tition with other users. 

This approach seems unusual, but according to Golem­biewski, this inter­active approach is per­fectly suited to the unique chal­lenges posed by COVID-19.

“The online scav­enger hunts are fun for the entire family to par­tic­ipate in. So we thought cre­ating one to rec­ognize and cel­e­brate mil­itary children during the month of April would be a great alter­native to any in-person activ­ities,” Golem­biewski said.

At the same time, the 4‑H also seeks to com­mu­nicate the meaning behind the Month of the Mil­itary Child to children and their families. 

“We hope to provide a fun way for mil­itary fam­ilies to cel­e­brate the month, as well as inform civilian fam­ilies of this special month and the meaning behind it,” said Golem­biewski. “Par­tic­i­pants will also learn a little about the mil­itary by com­pleting the Goose­chase missions.”

Insa Raymond is an edu­cator for the Hillsdale branch of the Michigan 4‑H. Raymond explained that much of this event is about raising awareness for mil­itary families.

“The scav­enger hunt is open to all youth regardless if they are from a mil­itary family or not. Par­tic­i­pating in the scav­enger hunt will raise awareness of the mil­itary in general, of the service and sac­rifice mil­itary fam­ilies do for our country, and the chal­lenges mil­itary fam­ilies face around deployment, fre­quent relo­cation, and rein­te­gration,” she said. “As we cel­e­brate Month of the Mil­itary Child through-out the month of April, April 15 is a special day to cel­e­brate the strength of the mil­itary child. It is ‘Purple Up Day’ and everyone is asked to join and wear some­thing purple on that day.”

Raymond also explained how this event can benefit Hillsdale County, in particular.

“We may not have a mil­itary base in Hillsdale County, but we do have many fam­ilies with family members who served and are serving in the mil­itary. We also have a number of mil­itary fam­ilies in our Hillsdale County 4‑H com­munity,” she said. “Con­nected through the 4‑H Mil­itary Part­nership, engagement in local 4‑H pro­grams offers mil­itary children a sense of belonging and fosters life skills.”