Brat Town Bugle was developed by Benita Koeman, founder of Operation We Are Here, to help bridge the gap between home front kids and their geographically separated parent.
When Benita's husband returned to the U.S. for his R&R (rest and recuperation) in March of 2010, their family went on a ten-day action-packed vacation. The time was spent creating a wealth of memories as a family, and when her husband returned back to Afghanistan she was blatantly aware of the memories taking place at home that he was missing out on and that the kids weren't verbalizing in phone conversations. Her children's attempts (and her own) to journal were a failure as well.
With her husband's impending birthday, the homeschool mom was given the idea of creating a newspaper, a concept that allowed their children (ages 7, 8 and 10) to have fun writing and drawing for their dad in portions that weren't overwhelming to them.
To add a more creative flair to the newspaper, Benita sought help from Beth Allen, founder of Troops in Touch. Benita knew Beth has a similar passion to connect military children with their deployed parent. Beth designed her Troops in Touch preprinted interactive postcards for children to send to their parent, or for the parent to send to their child. Beth also designs free, downloadable coloring pages for children to send to their deployed parent.
What's up with "NON-RECRUITS IN BIG BOOTS?" Military children are not recruited to be military brats; they just are. They have "big boots" to fill, and this Month of the Military Child, we celebrate and pay tribute to all military children who serve along with their parents!
Operation We Are Here has a reputation of having a clearinghouse of resources for the military family. Check out this exhaustive list of resources for children and teens!
How it works:
- Download and print any or all of the pdf files below.
- To create your own coloring page from a photo, visit Dumpr.
- Lay out the pages and have your children choose which page(s) they'd like to contribute to. In our home we decided to make this a weekly event, and when the kids get excited, for example, about our pet garter snake eating a frog, I encourage them to write about that in the next issue.
- You will need to do at least 4 pages for a complete newspaper; inserts are an option as well.
- You may want to wait with any coloring until after the newspaper has been photocopied.
- Go to your local library or office supply store and make a two-sided photocopy on 11x17 paper. For a smaller newspaper, shrink 77% to reduce to fit a legal-sized paper. Fold in half.
- Make an extra copy for yourself and to send to relatives.
- Keep extra printed out and ready for spontaneous, creative outbursts!
- Don't limit to your kids - Use this as an opportunity to jot a few notes to your deployed spouse; enlist friends and relatives to participate as well!
- We have made an effort to include all ages in this project.
- Make the newspaper your own...we've even included a blank header on the front page for you to create your own newspaper name. Just print, cut and paste your own design on the paper.
- E-mail us or post your feedback on Facebook -- we'd like to hear from you. Send us your ideas and we'll do our best to implement them.
The first official Brat Town Bugle to arrive in Afghanistan!
A military spouse writes:
"I was surprised by how much my kids got 'into' doing the Brat Town Bugle! My oldest (12) did the most reporter like stories, my 11 year old cracked me up with her comics and funny stories and my 5 year old loved doing the weather page and coloring pictures for the paper. My husband was surprised and impressed by how creative our kids are! He really enjoyed reading our first issue. He has the paper in plastic cover to keep it protected and is looking forward to our next issue!"
Copyright 2008 - 2022 Benita Koeman, Operation We Are Here. All rights reserved.
Operation We Are Here is a HUB of RESOURCES for the military community and military supporters.
Military support is not a concept to embrace; military support is sacrificial action. Visit our military support TOOLKIT.