A special camp in Bethany Beach that serves the children of local soldiers unveiled the sign for the new camp playground on July 25.
Camp Colwell is a weeklong camp that happens just once a year and hosts kids whose parents are in the Delaware National Guard. The campers are commonly referred to as Guard Kids. The campers, whose ages range from 6 to 17, are grouped in color-coded squadrons, in much the same way their parents are attached to different units.
Ernie Colwell came up with the idea of holding a camp for this specific group of children 19 years ago, but had no idea at the time just how successful it would prove to be. Christine Kubik, the head counselor, said many kids had already been complaining that they’d have to leave in a couple days.
At the camp, the Guard Kids learn about, and train in, some of the things that their parents do. Many of these activities involve lthe different aspects of the National Guard service, getting to ride in military vehicles, honing their shooting skills at the virtual firing range, and even staying in the barracks in order to get the full effect of living and training like their parents. These are just some of the many things the campers do at the Bethany site. There is also time for a trip to the water park, the ocean, and other fun things offsite.
At the lunch cafeteria, multiple campers were asked to speak about what Camp Colwell meant to them. Each and every one of them mentioned the friends that they get to make and said that those friends become family.
One camper said it’s hard never knowing if his parent is going to come back home when they get deployed. But he also said he realizes that’s part of what military service means, and coming to Camp Colwell is a way that he can feel as if he’s doing service too.
After lunch, all of the visitors and campers headed out by the track and the lake. Next to the lake stood a single swingset. “We haven’t had new playground facilities here for probably 25 years,” Kubik said. Ernie Colwell, now using a wheelchair, made the trip to the camp so he could pull back the cover on the new sign that read Colwell Park in his honor.
Kubik also said that they’d be planting three new trees on site in honor of people who were extremely close to the camp.
Two Black Hawk helicopters soon arrived to pick up the guests as the campers yelled chants and headed back out for their next adventures.