There are many April youth options

By Brandi Christensen, Children & Youth Chairman

The Children & Youth Program is a great way the American Legion Family can support children and youth in our communities, especially those of veterans and active military.

With a Minnesota National Guard Unit being deployed recently, how is the American Legion Family stepping up for those families affected?

I know it can be hard to identify those in your communities that are military families. Word of mouth can be the most effective way. You could set up a family day for them or just a Kids Day event so spouses can have a day for themselves.

April is the month of the military child. According to the Department of Defense there are more than 1.6 million military children in the nation. April is the month dedicated to them and was established in 1986.

Even though every day we should celebrate their service and sacrifice, we can show our support by just being there for families in any way we can. It does not even have to be an event. Just let the families know that the American Legion Family is there to lend support, even if it is just friendship.

April 15 is Purple Up Day for military kids! The reason for the color purple is it is a combination of all the colors associated with the branches of the military. Air Force is blue, Army is green, Navy is blue, Marine is red, and Coast Guard is blue. All together, that makes purple! We can show our support by promoting everyone in our communities including businesses to wear purple on this day.

With Easter coming up, your American Legion Family could start planning an Easter egg hunt for children in your community. Or you could plan other spring events for kids.

Other ways to support the Children & Youth Program without planning events is to donate to Children & Youth programs. These include scholarship programs: Child Welfare Foundation, Legionville, Baseball, Fastpitch Softball, Boys State, Girls State and Temporary Financial Assistance.

I know I have written about this before and some have heard this before, but I really feel this is a program we all should be proud of as the Minnesota American Legion Family — Legionville! And once again here is a little bit about it.

The original camp opened in 1956 and was 560 acres with 1,500 feet of shoreline along North Long Lake near Brainerd. Since the camp opened over 90,000 youth campers have graduated from the school crossing guard program. And there has never been an accident at a school crossing that has had a graduate of the program present. With the changing of times and some schools not using students as crossing guards they have also included other youth safety programs. They still teach crossing guards but also offer water safety, CPR, bus safety and first aid.

In the future they hope to offer four-wheeler safety and snowmobile safety. The 2024 camp will have six weekly sessions with a maximum capacity of 154 campers ages 9-13. The cost per camper is $500. The 2024 sessions will be: June 16-21 and 23-28 July 7-12, 14-19, 21-26, and 28-Aug 2.