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Marysville kids ‘deploy’ at Naval Station Everett

Six-year-old Gabriel Boyce of Marysville, left, clad in a child-sized camouflage uniform, asks questions of Petty Officer Third Class Stephen Bourgeois, right, on board USS Abraham Lincoln, during the April 1 Kids Deployment Camp at Naval Station Everett. - Kirk Boxleitner
Six-year-old Gabriel Boyce of Marysville, left, clad in a child-sized camouflage uniform, asks questions of Petty Officer Third Class Stephen Bourgeois, right, on board USS Abraham Lincoln, during the April 1 Kids Deployment Camp at Naval Station Everett.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Military children got a taste of what their moms and dads experience at sea during Naval Station Everett’s Kids Deployment Camp April 1.

More than 80 children aged 6-12 started their day by reciting the “Oath of the Military Kid,” led by Naval Station Everett Command Master Chief Michael Schanche, before they did their morning exercises, although the Zumba workout differed a bit from standard military PT.

From there, children from Marysville, Arlington and elsewhere in Snohomish County broke up into tour groups that boarded USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Shoup.

This program was designed to give the children and relatives of active-duty and retired military members, as well as base employees, a better understanding of what sailors’ lives are like when they’re deployed, according to Naval Station Everett Fleet and Family Support Center Director Kay Simpkins.

“A lot of these kids’ fathers and mothers are at sea right now,” said Simpkins, one of more than 20 volunteers from the support center, as well as the Navy Child and Youth Program, who escorted the children on ship.

“You can’t be with your family all the time when you’re in the fleet,” said 11-year-old Jaynee Dauz of Arlington. “People sacrifice to do this work.”

Dauz enjoyed her visit to the flight deck of the Lincoln, where she got to touch a stripped-down FA-18 that flight deck crews use to practice their operations.

Kaleigh Coleman’s father retires from active duty in July, and since he served on board the Lincoln, the camp was not her first visit to the ship. The Marysville girl still enjoyed touring the hangar bays and seeing the planes, and echoed Dauz’s view that time spent apart from one’s family is the hardest part of shipboard service.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Bourgeois found himself facing what looked like a miniature version of himself, when 6-year-old Gabriel Boyce of Marysville joined his tour group wearing a child-sized version of his own blue camouflage uniform. Boyce’s stepfather, Petty Officer 1st Class David Beckner, is a member of the Lincoln crew, which has given Boyce a unique perspective on the fleet.

“There’s doughnuts here,” Boyce said, while he and the other children ate lunch in the ship’s ward room. “They have cool jobs, like what my dad does. Building bombs is the hardest. I like the whole boat.”

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