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Little Warriors

Aug 12, 2019 04:04PM ● By Ed Helmick

Little Warrior’s Camp is a special weekend outdoor experience for the children, surviving spouse, and parents of a fallen Utah service member. Its purpose isn’t just for the kids, it also brings together families who are in similar situations.

Comforting relationships are a byproduct of this outdoor gathering. Camp Wapiti, a 50-acre mountain retreat operated by the Utah Elks, is located up Settlement Canyon above the town of Tooele, Utah.  The facilities include numerous cabins that can accommodate up to 12 people each, a dining hall that can seat 250 people, numerous other buildings for various purposes, and a large swimming pool. The camp is continually scheduled April through October. The weekend after Pioneer Day Camp Wapiti becomes Little Warriors Camp.

Camp Wapiti is a safe place for children and spouses of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, no one is going to ask difficult questions or make cruel comments about their loss in their lives. The Little Warrior’s Camp is a place where they can regain their childhood for a little while. They can play skill and entertainment games, eat plenty of good food, and interact with caring volunteer staff and personnel overseen by Robert (Bob) Pagnani who truly put the children first. 

The camp opened at 3 p.m. Friday for registration, a tee-shirt, and a Little Warrior’s backpack that contains, among other things, a Walkie Talkie with batteries, a history book by Rush Limbaugh and a blank journal for taking notes compliments of the Rush Limbaugh Foundation. Soccer practice, basketball, and horseback riding were available until dinner time. Dinner was provided by McCoy’s Flooring and Cabinets. The evening meal consisted of corn on the cob, garlic bread, spaghetti and meatballs, followed by a chocolate brownie and ice cream. After dinner the group gathered at the amphitheater for a group picture. Sixty-one Little Warrior’s registered, were supported by about 20 volunteers. 

Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided by the Wal Mart Distribution Center in Grantsville. Breakfast was all you can eat breakfast casserole, french toast casserole and choice of white or chocolate milk. After breakfast came the Flag raising ceremony by a unit of the Tooele Marine Corp. The rest of the morning had a long list of available activities to choose from. The activities included; BB Gun Trailer and Climbing Wall brought by the National Guard, a Zip Line, Water slide, Swimming, an art painting class, basketball, and an astronomical telescope focused on the moon. Then there was a lunch break that provided a huge subway type sandwich and chips. A well-known local TV character, Cowboy Ken provided some additional amusement. Then it was back to fun and games for the rest of the afternoon. The evening meal was a salad, string beans, corn, Salisbury steak, and potatoes. Later in the evening classic smores were created at the amphitheater fire pit and everyone thought that was great fun.

Sunday started with an 8-9 a.m. continental breakfast. Swimming was available until 11 a.m. Then it was clean -p and farewell to new and old friends. What a wonderful family weekend for veterans’ kids and families who have lost a loved one killed in action, committed suicide related to PTSD or passed away while on active duty. Presently Utah has over 300 kids and families that fall in this category. The Little Warriors Camp 2019 was the sixth year of this much needed and appreciated event. It was free to those who have lost family members in the service of our country. (Ed and Janice Helmick are Serve Daily contributors.