Welcome To The Fun House

bounce house

When we moved overseas last summer, we came to a reasonably large US base and were immediately surprised by the number of things happening all the time.  Bases overseas tend to have significantly more services than stateside bases, and our new home has a bowling alley, a movie theater, a teen center – all sorts of stuff.  In addition, someone is always putting on an event:  MWR, USO, the schools, the spouses club.

While we were living in temporary lodging, and didn’t know anyone, it was great.  At least every few days, we could go out to the field and the kids could jump in the bouncy castle (or bouncy dog, in our case), get their face painted, we could pick up some free swag, and there would either be free food or someone selling burgers for some worthwhile cause.  It was great entertainment.  The first few times.

Well, it has been nearly a year, and frankly, I’m finding it exhausting.  Last Saturday was the Easter egg hunt, aka candy grab, with someone selling burgers, and the bounce house.  Wednesday night it was some sort of month of the military child celebration with food, and games, and of course, the bounce house.  Tonight they are celebrating Earth Day with some food, some games, and, don’t forget the bounce house.  We try very hard not to go to every event, but they are promoted like crazy everywhere and they haven’t quite lost all their luster for the young people yet.

These events are becoming so commonplace in my kids lives that I’m a little worried.  What is going to happen when we return to the US, and there are no weekly infusions of face paint and free bouncy balls?  Is there some sort of “fest anonymous” for military brats returning to reality?

In the meantime, I’m off to celebrate Mother Earth by wandering around the Navy base, trying to get my kids to stop gathering more plastic things and eat some dinner instead.  Happy Earth Day!

photo by Orin Zebest

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Sarah

    This made me crack up. Overload on bouncy houses! :)

  • jooliyah

    i couldn’t have said it better! we just got back today from a bouncy house event (that’s how i think of them in my head.) the kids had a blast and i got another saturday off from figuring out lunch. i’m not complaining. but yes, i have wondered once in awhile if my kids think that every neighborhood gets together every couple of weeks or so to have a party like ours does.

  • SemperSteen

    Fest Anonymous. That is classic.

  • Michael

    I’m sure they’ll complain at first, but eventually get used to it. Where we live now, there are no bounce houses while at our previous location, almost every birthday party took place at a bounce house place. At first, our daughter kept saying “I want to go to a bounce house,” but then it changed to Chucky Cheese for awhile, and now she just enjoys going to a birthday party or other event even no matter where it is. However, she is taking gymnastics, ballet, and swimming. I guess those activities have replaced her former ones!

  • Kris

    I’m a Mavy wife with 2 kids and I’m sad that commands/MWR does not do more for our children stateside. I was a Navy brat myself and gave up my dependent child status for a spouse status so I’ve experienced both sides. When we lived overseas I was about 9-12 years old and the activities kept us outside and active. Think about it, your families most likely do not have the $$ to visit and would not fit in on base housing if they could afford the trip. So it’s just you and your kids… Kids need interaction outside of mom & dad and/or a tv. The commands stateside that my dad was attached to were extremely more involved in family morale and events than they are now. It’s sad to me because my husbands job calls him away at a moments notice and keeps him away for an indefinite amount of times. Without these military events, my children are not having the opportunities to be involved in the military life and later, this will help them appreciate the sacrifice their parent made of family for service to our country. I know that my positive experiences and memories is the reason I take pride in what my father did and what my husband does now (especially when my husband is gone much more than an average military member would typically deploy)

  • Katie

    We lived in Japan for 3 years…and have been back for 3 years stateside….
    I think it’s wonderful that they do so much overseas. And yes, I have children.
    When you are away from home and missing things familiar, they are there to help make things enjoyable. There is also lots of sightseeing things to do off base, but when you are on base, they are working at making you feel welcome. They also do most of this free of charge to you. You might have to pay for food….but not usually.

    What I hear from this story is unappreciative, spoiled brat syndrome. I don’t think they do enough stateside for the families. Military just blends in with the rest of the community, there isn’t a whole lot of ‘special’. They only have so many ideas….maybe you could meet with them and offer a few suggestions to kinda break up the ‘bounce house’ ideas that they seem to be using.

    I loved our time overseas and have many wonderful memories….including the bounce house activities.

  • Sara

    When this person gets stationed somewhere that’s not near a base, she’ll be begging for all those free activities! Where we live, we have to pay to go to a bounce house, hot dog sales normally don’t go for good causes, & you can’t always get to a movie theater or bowling alley easily. One thing those kids have access to that normal kids don’t get to experience is being in another country, so skip a few bounce house parties & explore the country some. Take advantage of what you have while you have it, free bounce houses & all.