In June, WEA was excited to oversee a “WEA rodeo” for the families participating in the Wyoming Military Family Camp held near Sheridan. WEA has conducted its rodeo at several WEA Summer Institutes for the past few years. This has been used as both an enjoyable group activity and a fundraiser for WEA- PACE. But our reputation for good family fun has spread!
This year we were contacted by the Operation Military Kids group and asked to host our friendly competition at the Military Family Camp, which is held to assist military families to reunite following deployment(s). Research has shown that such families can experience difficulties reconnecting for up to five years following their reunification. WEA’s rodeo was seen as just the ticket to get these adults and kids up and moving, literally and figuratively, in a positive direction as a family unit.
The WEA rodeo includes family-friendly activities involving stuffed animals, Frisbees, water guns, and kids’ bikes and scooters in such events as Critter Roping, Brahma Board, Quick Draw, Trap Shooting, Trick Riding, Stick Horse Races, Team Roping, and Cow Chip Toss. It’s as much fun for observers as it is for participants! Winners of each event are awarded handmade “belt buckles,” in addition to the award for Best All-‘Round.
There are approximately 5,000 children aged birth-18 in Wyoming who are dependents of military personnel, with some located in every single county of our state. The Wyoming Education Association partners with groups such as the Wyoming National Guard Family and Youth coordinators and Operation Military Kids to assist these young people, including providing training and resources for the educators and childcare providers who work with them on a daily basis. It was at just such a training that the leaders of the Military Camp participated in a WEA rodeo and got the idea to use it for the military families.
A big shout-out of thanks to WEA members and staff who volunteered: Ed Mosher, Edie Mosher, Alicia Alger, Cheri Grutkowski, Leslie Brazil, Stacey Peres and family, Meg Maze, Laurie Graves, Margo Iames, Coleen Haines and husband, Kathy Scheurman, and Judy Trohkimoinen.