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Celebrating military children in the great outdoors

Sunday - 4/1/2012, 4:39pm  ET

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A few children collect prizes at the Blue Star Families MilKidz Club table. (Kathy Stewart/WTOP)

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

DUMFRIES, Va. - Hundreds of local military children gathered in a local park to kick of the Month of the Military Child.

They were treated to a free day at Prince William Forest Park, a national park that is near the Quantico Marine Base.

The kids and their families got to connect with nature by hiking, fishing, learning to pitch tents and hopefully, enjoying the healing powers of the great outdoors.

"Military children can really benefit from getting outdoors," says Jackie Ostfeld, a national youth representative for the Sierra Club. "It gives them an outlet for some of the stress and worry they feel at home and just have some good fun time with their families."

Military children face many challenges in their life that non-military children do not -- like parents who are away for multiple deployments and the possibility of being forced to move every couple of years.

A 2010 study found that children of deployed parents are much more likely to suffer from stress disorders and to have behavioral problems.

Ostfeld says military children have a lot on their plates and they just need time to be kids.

"They serve everyday while their parents are deployed and even when their parents return," says Jackie Ostfeld. "These kids are doing a lot for our country."

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)