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.”