Operation Camouflage has seen more than 70 young people, half from military families based at Colchester, Wattisham and Woodbridge, take part in three action-packed days of craft and sport activities at the town’s Rock Barracks.
The aim of the programme, organised by Suffolk Coastal District Council and the Army Welfare Service (AWS), is to bring together young people from different backgrounds to challenge themselves and develop new skills.
Activities ranged from graffiti art and T-shirt making to an assault course and bushcraft lessons run by soldiers from the town’s 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault). Young people also enjoyed sports including handball and rounders.
AWS community development worker Claire Lowe said: “Operation Camouflage is all about the mixture – we mix young people from military and civilian backgrounds together for a varied mix of craft and sporting activities.
“At the end of each day everyone has gone home tired and happy, but also developed their confidence and learnt a lot about teamwork. This is one of the highlights of the year for me because the young people get so much out of it.”
This year the project secured funding from the Suffolk Armed Forces Community Covenant, which was signed in 2012 as a statement of mutual support between the county’s civilian community and its Armed Forces.
Suffolk Coastal’s active communities officer Sarah Shinnie said: “This is Operation Camouflage’s seventh year and it’s gone from strength to strength. Some of the young people here have come from difficult backgrounds and it’s a great way to positively engage with them in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.
“Securing the Community Covenant funding has helped us be that bit more ambitious in our activities this year.
“We’ve always played a range of sports, but this year we’ve been able to bring in professional coaches such as Louise Jukes, who played handball for Team GB at the London Olympics and now runs a club in Ipswich.”
Among the young people taking part was Solomon Jacobs. Having been a participant for the previous six years, this year the 14-year-old from Woodbridge was helping to organise activities.
He said: “I’ve really enjoyed the activities in previous summers and it helped with my leadership and confidence. As a young leader it’s been a good opportunity to come back to continue the fun and help others enjoy the activities.”
For more information about the Suffolk Armed Forces Community Covenant, visit http://www.suffolkmilitarycovenant.org.uk/