Students participate in Fun Day with the Guard
BENTON, Mo. -- Dylan Harbison said that the weapons simulator she got to use as part of Fun Day with the Missouri National Guard was "sick."
It's the 10th graders way of saying it was fun.
"It was pretty cool," Harbison said of the high-tech, computerized simulator that allowed her to shoot bad guys as part of a virtual world that emphasizes marksmanship training. "There were screens all around me and we had to watch out for these guys who were trying to attack us. It looked so real. It was really, really sick."
Harbison was among 600 Scott County junior and senior-high students who participated in Fun Day with the Guard recently at Kelly High School in Benton. In addition to the popular weapons simulator, students got to rock-climb, mock-fight with pugel sticks and race on an inflatable obstacle course.
Also very popular among the kids was a push-up challenge that allowed them to earn Missouri National Guard T-shirts. The Missouri National Guard Mobile Events Team brought down much of the equipment and the weapons simulator was provided by National Guard Bureau.
"We're just trying to introduce some of the students to the Missouri National Guard," said Staff Sgt. Steven Bell, a recruiting and retention noncommissioned officer based in Cape Girardeau. "We want them to know that we're an option for them after high school. We provide options for college or if they want to make the National Guard their career right after high school."
But Bell said the event wasn't just a recruiting tool.
"We want them to understand that we are Citizen-Soldiers," Bell said. "We want them to know that we are directly involved in the communities all around them. This is supposed to be fun today."
Rhonda Ratledge, a counselor at Kelly High School, said the Missouri National Guard is a good option for a lot of their students.
"Some of our students may not go to college or don't come from a strong educational background," Ratledge said. "So an event like this one introduces many of our students to the National Guard and lets them know that it's another option for their careers after high school."
Kelly High School has never had an event like the one sponsored by the Missouri National Guard, she said.
"We hadn't ever done anything like this before," she said. "The kids are still talking about the good time they had. We really appreciate the Guard doing what it did for our students. Members of the community noticed it going on and also voiced their appreciation. The kids just thought it was great. We all did."
Chase Pinson, a 17-year-old senior from Benton, said he especially enjoyed the rock-climbing wall, despite the fact that he's afraid of heights.
"This is pretty neat," he said. "I'm afraid of heights and I faced it and still did it. I guess that's what the military is supposed to be about."
Terry Moreland, a 17-year-old junior from Sikeston, recently joined the Missouri National Guard and leaves for basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in June. It was events like this one that encouraged him to join the National Guard, he said.
"I think it's a good way to encourage people and show people what the Guard is about," he said. "It shows them when they join they'll be out in the community and we do work with the community. It really is a chance for people to do things they never thought they'd be able to."
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.