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Military Kids Report! From Playfield in the Park

Take a peek inside Yellow Ribbons United‘s Playfield in the Park in Virginia, with our military kid reporter, Ben.

What is the Playfield in the Park?

Approximately 500 children and teens attending the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Good Grief Camp and Honoring Our Heroes Camp attended Playfield in the Park over Memorial Day Weekend.

Children who attend the TAPS Good Grief Camp have lost a parent or sibling serving in the Armed Forces, and children attending the TAPS Honoring Our Heroes Camp are growing up in families impacted by military loss.

Playfield in the Park was a chance to come together as a group to enjoy interactive sports games, pretend tea parties, cupcakes, and fun activities with  hosts from NFL Play60, NFL Punt Pass and Kick, American Girl, Washington Kastles, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Dog Tag Bakery and Lifetime Fitness.


Photos by Jennifer Jones / TAPS


Love, Fun, and Friendship. Building kids up through play.

By Ben, military kid reporter

This past Memorial Day weekend, the TAPS kids attended Playfield in the Park. Everyone looks forward to Playfield in the Park especially founder Derrick Dockery, a football player for the Washington Redskins.  I got to interview him and his wife. According to the Dockerys, the event was started because Mrs. Emma Dockery’s brother, SGT David V. Williams, was serving and killed in August 18, 2012.  Emma Dockery said, “It was a great way to thank TAPS for the love they showed our family.”

So what is Playfield in the Park?  At the beginning we walked up to the field and were greeted by lots of kid volunteers and dudes on motorcycles.   Unfortunately this year the sun was not on our side but the ice cream sure did help. Whatever you wanted to do, that’s what you did.  There were sports stations for every sport you can think of: basketball, soccer, frisbee, you name it. My favorite was the baseball station. The tennis station was very popular too. Many kids loved the obstacle course.

DSC_5119The TAPS kids got to make their own custom flat hats, that were spray painted.  The hats were sprayed with graffiti letters that looked pretty cool and were a big hit. There was a stage to sing and dance. There was dancing and singing everywhere.

Not to mention, they served great food, including BBQ and pizza. I loved playing with my mentor, Weston, who is also a TAPS kid. He was the greatest mentor anyone could ever have. At Playfield in the Park you are never bored. I am so excited for all the fun stuff next year.

DSC_5295Derrick Dockery is a great guy who LOVES every single type of food. He enjoys kids a lot and by his attitude you can tell. To do Playfield in the Park you have to be a pretty great guy. Derrick Dockery is nothing less than a great guy!

Weston Haycock and Ben VoelkeBack to Playfield in the Park. I interviewed another TAPS mentor, who described the day as “pretty cool because I got to be outdoors and we got to play around with our kids,”  It was so fun I could not explain it. It was one of the very, very good times in my life ever since my father passed away.

It was very fun but I was so tired at the end of the day I nearly passed out. I wish I could go back in time to do it over and over and over and over and over and over again but I can’t wait until next year. I spoke to a TAPS kid, Ian, who said his mentor was “pretty cool and he did a lot of fun stuff with me.” My mentor, Weston, described Playfield in the Park as “the best time of my life.”

On the last day, all I could think about was the day before. If I could go back in time to do it again I would.  But since I don’t have superpowers I’ll just have to wait until next year.



Thank you to Ben, TAPS, and Yellow Ribbons United for helping to make this report happen!

What is TAPS?

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers compassionate care to all those grieving the death of a loved one serving in our Armed Forces. Since 1994, TAPS has provided comfort and hope 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a national peer support network and connection to grief resources, all at no cost to surviving families and loved ones.

What is Yellow Ribbons United?

Yellow Ribbons United focus on bringing together professional sports, companies, and the public to honor and support America’s military families and veterans. It was founded by Derrick and Emma Dockery, and reflects their steadfast commitment to assist America’s heroes and their families, who make profound sacrifices to preserve America’s values and ensure our freedom and liberty at home and across the globe.


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