A summer camp like no other is taking place on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls over the next two weeks. The 250 camp participants are children of NATO personnel from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain and the United States. Dan DeGraaf is a liaison for the program known as the International Youth Camp. The camp’s goal is to promote mutual understanding, to let the kids get to know each other and break down stereotypes and let them see what they have in common. U-N-I runs an international program call “Camp Adventure” that coordinates recreational activities are military bases across the world. DeGraff says ties developed in that program led to U-N-I being chosen as the host for this year’s camp. He says each year a different country in the NATO Alliance hosts the camp, and this is the first year it’s ever been hosted by the U.S. The kids arrived in Cedar Falls Wednesday, and DeGraff says they’re looking forward to a great time. This is the first time the camp has been held at a nonmilitary site, but DeGraff says they’re not overly worried about security. He says the health and safety of the campers is their top concern, but he says they don’t want to blow it out of proportion. DeGraff says they’ll visits lots of places while they’re here with the goal of giving the kids a taste of the American experience. He says they’re excited about showcasing a lot of things that people think about when they think about America, like baseball, and a county fair. The kids will live on the U-N-I campus and will go canoeing, horseback riding and rock climbing during the visit.
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