CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. --
Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 307th Civil Engineer Squadron gained essential hands-on experience and aided the local community here by helping to construct Camp Kamassa, a strategically designed, 326-acre camp for children and adults with special needs.
Reserve civil engineer squadrons from Barksdale Air Force Base, Hill AFB, and McGuire AFB joined forces April 23- May 8 for the effort which was made possible by a partnership between Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation and the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training Program.
The IRT Program matches military contributions with community resources to fulfill local needs, such as infrastructure projects like Camp Kamassa.
Mary Kitchens, the founder and executive director of the MTK Foundation, ensured each Reserve Citizen Airmen understood the scope of the project and its impact by providing them with layout designs and allowing them to meet some of the people Camp Kamassa could help.
She also continuously expressed gratitude for the Reserve Citizen Airmens’ efforts by encouraging them and handing out homemade baked cookies as they battled muddy conditions to complete their work,
"We try to give them something to help them remember they were here and shower them with Mississippi hospitality,” she said. “I try to say not only do we appreciate that you’re here building our camp, but we appreciate your service to our country.”
Tech. Sgt. Chase Pavlic, a water and fuel systems maintenance supervisor with the 307th CES said Camp Kamassa was a great training platform because the project allowed him to train troops in his career field to do their job duties from start to finish.
Pavlic smiled as he recalled meeting a few of the potential campers. He said hearing their stories and knowing how excited they are to have a place just for them got him emotionally invested in the success of Camp Kamassa.
“They want something like this,” said Pavlic. “And for us to come out and do our training, it’s teaching us something and also it’s giving back to the community.”
Senior Airman Franklin Quattlebaum, 307th CES pavements and equipment journeyman, said many of the projects provided valuable training because they mirrored those he would accomplish during a deployment. But like Pavlic, Quattlebaum said the benefits of working on Camp Kamassa went deeper than valuable training time.
“What we are doing is pretty big,” he said. “I have a great sense of pride in it.”
Senior Airman Jon Jester, 307th CES engineering assistant, said working at Camp Kamassa gave him a boost of confidence.
“Especially in a downrange situation, you need to be sure of yourself and you need to be sure of your job and sure of your ability to do it, and this training gives you that,” said Jester.
More information regarding the IRT Program can be found at: irt.defense.gov.