Adventures in Solo Parenting

adventures in solo parenting:

getting out without the spouse

Aaron Pylinski | Community Writer

Deployment time can be trying. Double that with the added stress of keeping the youngsters entertained while they’re out of school and things can get crazier even yet.

I can remember growing up with my two brothers and my mom having her hands full when my dad was on deployment. The best thing we did while dad was gone was going camping. All told, it got us boys out in the woods and gave my mom a sense of peace knowing we weren’t really getting into trouble. I mean, not any trouble that she knows about.

Back that up another six years when we were all living in Germany and I can remember jumping on the train and heading out to see what Deutschland had to offer. Everything from exploring medieval castles to volksmarches through Black Forest villages, there was no shortage of things to do. Regardless of where we were or what we did, my mom held it together for us kids and made sure we made the best of the time we had together and weren’t fretting over our dad being gone.

MCCS understands the strain of parenting while a spouse is deployed and we provide a number of free or relatively inexpensive opportunities to get out of the house and expend some energy.

What Does MCCS Offer?

The Youth & Teen program (Y&TP) is an affiliate of the Boy’s and Girls’ Club of America (BGCA) and offers BGCA related activities. Y&TP provides a positive, alternate support environment that enhances social, emotional, and developmental learning for success in life. Youth & Teen activities are open to youth ages 10-18 who are enrolled in primary or secondary school. There are no fees associated with this program.

Monthly Activities:
     Triple Play Activities (MON-THU) / Noon - 7 PM / Ages 10-18
     Triple Play Healthy Habits (WED) / 4-5 PM / Ages 10-18
     Samurai Keystone Social (TUE) / 3-4 PM / Ages 10-18
     Torch Club Meeting (Second THU of the Month) / 1-2 PM / Ages 10-12
     Smart Girls Meeting (3rd THU of the Month) / 1-2 PM / Ages 10-12
     Passport to Manhood Meeting (Third THU of the Month) / 1-2 PM / Ages 10-15
     Monthly Birthday Party (4th FRI of the Month) / 3-4:30 PM / Ages 10-18
     Middle School Social (FRI) / 6-8 PM

Nothing keeps the kiddos active, healthy, and social like sports. MCCS offers a number of opportunities for competitions here on the installation as well as the newly opened Atago Sports Complex.

Youth Sports offers children ages 3-15 the chance to participate in a variety of sports including basketball, baseball, soccer, and flag football. The program also hosts fun, safe, and healthy intercultural activities with local school children throughout the year. Here’s what Youth Sports is offering through the end of the summer:

  • Soccer Season Sign-ups - August 6-31 at IronWorks. The league is open to all SOFA status personnel, children of JMSDF personnel, and youth of MLC/IHA personnel. New players learn the fundamental concepts of the game and gain experience playing. Veteran youth players come back to improve their skills. Practices begin September 10, games begin September 17.

  • Summer Basketball Camp - August 13-17 at the Lotus Cultural Center (Atago Sports Complex). The camp is open to all children age 10-18 of SOFA status personnel, JMSDF personnel, and MLC/IHA personnel. It is also open to local Japanese nationals. Learn the fundamental concepts of basketball or strengthen existing skills. Registration is $290 or ¥32,000.

  • British Summer Soccer Camp - August 6-10 at the Atago Sports Complex. Learn the fundamentals of soccer, teamwork, leadership, and sportsmanship as well as dribbling, passing, shooting, defense, drills, and scrimmage games. Open to children ages 7-15 of SOFA, JMSDF, MLC, and IHA personnel, and local Japanese nationals.

The Intramural Sports Program offers team and individual athletic competitions for eligible station personnel and their family members ages 16 and older, regardless of skill or experience.

If sports are not your speed, or you’re just looking to switch it up a little and beat the heat of the summer, then head over to the library at bldg. 411 on the third floor. The MCCS Iwakuni Library supports the educational, recreational, and lifelong learning needs of all servicemembers and their families. Resource collections include both print and electronic books, audio books, magazines, journals, music, and movies. Free online resources are accessible to library patrons 24/7. When visiting the library, ages 10-17 must sign in and present ID card at the front desk. Children age 10 and younger must be accompanied by an adult supervisor. The library’s End of Summer Reading Program Party is August 8 from 5-6 PM. It’s open to all ages, so come and enjoy some games and crafts. Grand prize winners from the Summer Reading Program will be announced at the party.

These are all great things to do within the confines of the air station, but when it’s time to extend your exploration radius, what is there to do beyond the gate? Japan is a beautiful country and the local Japanese are gracious hosts. Though there is a cultural and language barrier between us, that doesn’t have to stop us from going out and experiencing what great summer events this country has to offer.

One great way to experience Japan and keep the kids entertained is matsuri, or summer festivals. Normally, these festivals have streets lined with game and food booths that offer everything from hotdogs on a stick to more traditional Japanese fare. The games are usually kid-centered and offer prizes. Most Japanese booth tenders are pretty generous especially when westerners participate in their games and try the food. Always remember to carry yen and bring a healthy appetite.

Just about every Japanese city has multiple summer festivals including fireworks festivals and information on these festivals can be located in the Explore section of preview magazine.

Don’t let deployments get you in a rut. Not everyone has the exciting opportunity to raise a family in a foreign country, especially one with such rich culture and multiple opportunities for fun and education. So grab up those kiddos and get out to see what Japan and MCCS Iwakuni has to offer. Ganbari masho!

Pricing and Hours of Operation Change at MCCS

Recently, MCCS Iwakuni was notified of reductions in appropriated funds. Because of this reduction, decisions were made to make select changes to hours of operation and pricing at several locations.

This was not an easy task, as MCCS provides many services to our community at no cost such as concerts, family events, cultural/educational trips and classes, and others. As an organization, we are constantly looking for ways that we can better serve you with available resources.

Hours of Operations Changes

Marine Lounge
SUN - THU: 10 AM - 10 PM
FRI & SAT: 10 AM - 3 AM

Hornet's Nest
MON - THU: 4 AM - Midnight
FRI: 4 AM - 3 AM
SAT: 8 AM - 3 AM
SUN: 8 AM - Midnight

MON - FRI:  9 AM - 6:30 PM
SAT & SUN:  9 AM - 5 PM

*Removed JD’s late nights
Breakfast / Lunch:
MON - SAT: 6:30 AM - 2 PM
Dinner: 4:30-10 PM
Sunday Brunch: 8 AM - 2 PM

IronWorks North
MON - FRI:  4 AM - 10 PM
SAT, SUN, & HOL:   7 AM - 9 PM
Unmanned Hours
MON - FRI: 10 PM - 3 AM
SAT, SUN, & HOL: 10 PM - 6 AM

IronWorks Atago
MON - FRI: 11 AM - 7 PM
SAT, SUN, & HOL: 8 AM - 5 PM

Price Changes

Sakura Theater
Adults 2D: $5, 3D: $6
Kids 2D: $3.50, 3D $5

Outdoor Recreation
Inflatable Bouncy House - $50
Bean Bag Game - $15
Canopy Tent - $40
Folding Chairs - $1
Small Grill - $10
Large Grill - $30
10-Gallon Water Cooler - $3
Inflatable Ball - $5
Santa Suits - $25
Sumo Suits - $25/Set
Tables - $2
Tarps - $1

Car Rental
Increasing $5 across the board

Marine Corps Family Team Building

Marine Corps Family Team Building (MCFTB) is instrumental in helping spouses and children weather the storm of deployments. Their resources include:

  • Pre-deployment for Parents & Kids: The Parents and Child Pre-Deployment Workshop uses a guest speaker and age-appropriate activities for children age five and older to normalize an upcoming deployment. The adult component combines discussion and demonstrations to highlight ways parents can support their child(ren) during a deployment.

  • Mid-Deployment, Self Care: This workshop is designed to promote deployment success through individual self-care for the spouse or significant other. It includes information about stress management, staying connected, dealing with emotional ups and downs, and the many resources available. The main objective is to relax and encourage participants to take care of themselves and stay connected with their deployed servicemembers. There is a class this August 24 from 9-11 AM at the Community Support Center at Sakura Theater in the Fellowship Hall.

  • Mid-Deployment for Kids: This fun and informational workshop promotes deployment success for kids. The trainer and mentors discuss reactions to deployment, ways to help, and sources of help. Children learn about communication at an age-appropriate level, healthy living habits, what causes stress and how to deal with it, and the core components of positive character.

  • Mid-Deployment Success: Participants learn about ways to promote deployment success through suggestions on fun things to do and the many resources available. This fun class helps each participant define his or her own way of measuring deployment success. This is a great opportunity to assess progress so far, get new ideas for continued success, and also for participants to network with other military spouses.

  • Return & Reunion for Kids: This program focuses on presenting serious issues in a fun way. Using a guest speaker and age-appropriate activities, children age five and older learn to prepare for the upcoming return, reunion, and reintegration with their military parent.

  • Return & Reunion (Spouses & Significant Others): This program provides information on how to reintegrate with your servicemember, what to expect on the “big day” when they return, and help with changes that may have occurred during the deployment.