By Sue Brink, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast Public Affairs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast hosted a "Bring Your Kids to Work Day" event at its headquarters, June 9 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville.
After everyone signed in and got in their assigned group, the children learned about and participated in morning colors, paying tribute to our nations flag as it was raised on the flagpole in front of Building 1 with the national anthem echoing across the field.
"Welcome to NAVFAC Southeast," said Capt. Steve Hamer, NAVFAC Southeast commanding officer. "You are going to do, see and enjoy a lot of fun things today. We are going to talk to you about what we do, how we build stuff for the Navy, how we take care of the stuff we build, how we buy stuff, and how we protect our environment."
The 55 children, with ages ranging from preschool through high school, received "goodie bags" filled with educational tools to help them succeed in the day's activities and were then put into age appropriate small teams for marshalling through 10 educational sessions.
During the event children were introduced to many different things the NAVFAC team does, via outdoor displays or hands-on activities and videos in theme oriented conference rooms inside Building 903. They learned how to manage money, navigate the points of a compass, protect the environment and our ocean. They checked out vehicles and equipment used by Seabees and NAVFAC employees, learned about the fire triangle and fire protection engineering and contracting actions with acquisition personnel.
NAVFAC's environmental team had the largest room where the kids learned about different environmental careers, how the Navy watches the oceans and protects endangered species. They played with artifacts, and animal bones.
"The entire day was really interesting," said Spencer Maculan, 15-year-old attendee. "I really enjoyed it. All of the equipment outside was really cool; it was interesting to learn about what everyone does."
The event gave kids the opportunity to not only learn about what their parents do every day, but to also work as a team to finish a project, which is one of the benchmarks that makes the NAVFAC Southeast team so successful.
"This event is great not only for the kids but also for us as facilitators," said Mary Vanatta, management assistant with the Environmental Department who helped organize the event. "This is my third year working on this event. It really is great for the kids. They learn so much."
Children were not the only ones having fun during the event; some parents were able to share in the hands-on activities with their kids. Arnie Olsen, Environmental Remedial project manager who was escorting his three daughters, talked about how much fun his daughters were having; like last year, they were looking forward to the event.
"This event was wonderful, watching the kids get engaged and work together, plus having my daughters see some of the things that I do in my job was great," Olsen said. "I loved that my girls got to meet the executive officer and sit down and talk to him personally. They actually played a round of 'Go Fish!'"
After a fun-filled morning of projects, learning and working together, children and their parents gathered outside for a group photo. Many of the kids and parents expressed their appreciation for the hard work that the NAVFAC staff put into making this a wonderful day and how much they looked forward to next year's event.