Positive energy erupts for kids and volunteers at USO Hansen

Positive energy erupts for kids and volunteers at USO Hansen

by Samantha D. Wolkoff
USO Hansen

Camp Hansen, OKINAWA, Japan - L.E.A.P. (Learning, Engaging, Activity, and Play) is a monthly program at USO Hansen that uses fun and innovative activities to unite service members and their families through learning. The program was designed to create an engaging experience for the military kids here in Okinawa. It also allows our volunteers to take a break from their duty as an active-duty Marine or Sailor and have some fun.

On Thursday, June 18, USO Hansen was excited to present L.E.A.P. – Volcano Experiments. The event started with a first-hand experience at cracking open a geode to discover beautiful crystals that formed inside and learning that pumice is the only rock that can float. Next, USO Hansen’s Center Operations Specialist, Jeff Pitt, brought in his volcanic rock collection and shared fun facts about each one; he even brought enough obsidian for each kid to take a piece home. After, USO volunteer and military spouse, Cynthia Doyle, created a visual representation of the layers of the Earth and, to follow, led a demonstration of the volcanic eruption experiment. “Woah!” military children simultaneously cheered at USO Hansen as they watched the simple chemical reaction of combining baking soda, vinegar, and pop rocks candy.

“I absolutely loved how excited the kids were, and it was super fun watching their reactions,” Doyle said. When asked what she loves most about volunteering at USO Hansen, and she said, “It’s super fun, there’s always something to do, and getting to help the service members and their families is a privilege.”

Following the demonstration, the children went to their experiment stations. Then, with the help of volunteers, they got to do the experiments on their own in miniature 3-D printed volcanos that they got to keep.

“We love when you guys do these L.E.A.P. programs, my son was just doing a volcano experiment, so this was perfect, we didn’t want to miss out on this one”, Sarah Cox, mother of five said. Sarah and her family are regulars at USO Hansen’s L.E.A.P. program.

“The USO has been so awesome, especially for us families overseas…I got some good smiles today,” Cox said.

L.E.A.P. is becoming a household name in Okinawa and has expanded from Camp Hansen to other centers who’ve adopted the program.

“There was a need for family programming on Camp Foster,” Alejandra Lopez, Field Programs Manager at USO Camp Foster, said. “I saw how much the Hansen families loved L.E.A.P. and thought it would be a perfect fit for our center.”

The next USO Hansen L.E.A.P program will be on Thursday, July 15, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. What’s the next theme? Super Mario Balloon Kart Races! Kids will be building cars from cardboard tubes with a balloon engine and racing them on our track! Registrations is required and will begin on Thursday, July 8 at 11 a.m. Follow us on Facebook @USOHansen for more information on upcoming programs.

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