'Adventure Day' at Becket YMCA Camp gives vets a day of fun with their families

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PHOTOS | 'Adventure Day' at Becket Chimney Corners YMCA Camp

BECKET — At the Becket Chimney Corners YMCA Camp, when someone decides to hop on the swing, it's more of an adventure than usual.

The swing at Chimney Corners is located on the top of the 100-foot-high alpine tower.

"It's pretty high up there," said 10-year-old Gabrielle Mora of Worcester, who climbed the 100-foot tower and went on the swing. "But it was a lot of fun."

Gabrielle and her younger brother, 8-year-old Matthew, were among 50 or so participants Saturday in Berkshire County's first "Adventure Day," designed to provide bonding opportunities for military veterans and their families.

The event is hosted by Home Base, a nonprofit arm of the Boston Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital that aims to assist post-9/11 veterans and their families cope with post-traumatic stress issues, according to Laura Lakin, the organization's associate director of veteran outreach.

About 2.5 million servicemen and women have been deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries since 2001, according to the National Center For Veterans. Statistically, about one in three will experience an "invisible wound" such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, sleep deprivation, anxiety, anger management issues and other maladies.

Home Base, Lakin said, is focused on helping veterans and their families address these issues.

Events like Saturday's Adventure Day are fun for kids, but they also are a key part of the overall treatment programs, Lakin said.

The outings are scheduled once a month. They range from Adventure Days like the one at Chimney Corners, to hikes to Red Sox games and other types of activities.

This is one of several nonprofits with which the Berkshire Outdoor Center partners, said assistant director McKenna Style. The Berkshire Outdoor Center is the nonprofit organization that administers the programs at the Chimney Corners YMCA. The Becket facility, which hosts more than 18,000 adults and children annually, is open year round, she said.

Home Base events are scheduled all over New England, Lakin said. This is the first one in the Western Massachusetts area, she said.

"Home Base offers some amazing veterans' programs and resources — but they're not always known to or convenient for veterans and their families," Lakin stated in a news release. "This opportunity to collaborate with the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA not only helps us bring services closer to families and veterans, but also supports both our organizations' goals of reaching new communities."

Families came from throughout New England for Saturday's event. Gabrielle Mora and her brother and mother, veteran Deborah Mora, have participated in a couple of events over the past few years.

"This one is pretty cool," Matthew said. "It'd actually a pretty good workout climbing up there [on the alpine tower]."

"One of the things these types of events do is bring together veterans and their families with other vets' families," Lakin said. "We see people from all over New England come together and bond with each other."

The other benefit of the program, she said, is that veterans and their families learn about the programs available at Home Base. The outreach is vital, she said, because the nonprofit, created in 2009, is still trying to get out the word about its programs, which are free to veterans and their families.

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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