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Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren beamed with youthful energy during this year’s Bring Your Child to Work Day on May 1. Children and their Navy civilian or service member parents participated in a wide variety of activities, such as touring the installation’s wetlands and emergency services, to science and engineering activities at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and the Aegis Training and Readiness Center (ATRC).

The children not only saw examples of what their parents do when they go to work, but also learned how studying hard in school can lead to an exciting career. Of course, taking a day off from school to tag along with mom or dad wasn’t bad, either.

One of the many activities organized by at NSWCDD’s Z Department was Z32’s “Infrastructionary,” a board game about keeping vital infrastructure secure. The goal was to keep a fictional school open by building and securing infrastructure against a variety of threats.

While the event was intended to be fun, it was also educational. “The point of the game was to learn how redundancy and infrastructure help to defend against disasters,” said Melanie Lunney, infrastructure analyst at Z32.

“We’re trying to get [the children] to recognize that there are vulnerabilities out there and ways of protecting against them,” added Joe Richards, infrastructure analyst at Z32. “We can make sure that somebody can’t come in and do something bad and protect [infrastructure] against things like natural disasters.”

The game was apparently successful in this goal; at one point, one of the more boisterous children in the group rather suddenly realized that a water tower was located in the distance. a small example of the vital infrastructure that many take for granted.

Another youngster, Evan, 12, created an impressive strategy during the game, accumulating and organizing assets into multiple layers of defense. His inspiration came from chess games against his dad, Todd Tarburton, a mechanical engineer assigned to Z33. “I learned from him that. the more stuff you have, the better chance you have of winning,” Evan explained.

Evan said he couldn’t tell whether his dad went easy on him during their father-son chess matches, but didn’t hesitate when asked if he ever won. “Yeah, I do. sometimes.”

“I let him win,” said Talburton, smiling.

“Yeah right!” replied Evan, perhaps buoyed by his solid Infrastructionary performance.

Evan went on to describe Bring Your Child to Work Day as “amazing” and enjoyed seeing the place where his dad supports the Navy. “I didn’t know they had all this,” he said. “It was my first time actually being on the base.”

Tarburton appreciated the perspective the demonstrations offered his children. “It gives young people a chance to experience the real world,” he said. “Water, protection, generators for electricity. there is a need to keep those things going.”

His daughter, Abigail, 15, is a member of the Charles County Navy Junior ROTC and would like to one day join the Navy or Coast Guard, though she isn’t quite sure about which particular mission she’d like to take on. “I hope I get into this [engineering] someday,” she said. “I don’t know if I want to be out in the field or do what my dad does.”

Inside Z Department, children participated in several activities such as an interactive map event, a duck “hunt” with laser guns and a sensor obstacle course. The latter two events were favorites for Macario, 10, son of Linda Willis, technical librarian at NSWCDD Q54. The honor roll student wants to be an engineer when he grows up; his favorite subject is math and he enjoys “building stuff.”

Macario earned a high score at the laser challenge and proudly explained how he succeeded in overcoming “the hardest” of the sensor obstacles.

“They call him the next Agent X,” said a grinning Willis.

Marcario exhibited the unflinching honesty of a child, however, when asked what he thought about his mom’s job. “It was very boring,” he panned, eliciting laughs from Willis and other grownups within earshot.

Perhaps it was good that Marcario’s paired his truthfulness with a lovely, decoupage flower vase he made for mom at Dahlgren’s Craftech. “I’ll take it,” said Willis.

Other children enjoyed even the more mundane aspects of their parent’s job. Inexplicably, the favorite part of the day for Gabby, 8, was not the fire trucks, games or other activities most would describe as fun. “[I liked] cleaning out behind her desk,” she said.

Gabby’s mom appreciated her developing work ethic. “When you come to work you’ve got to work,” said Dawn Brett, comptroller at NSWCDD.

It wasn’t just parents who brought young people to the day’s activities, but also grandparents. Bill Dodd, electronics engineer at NSWCDD Q54, brought his young granddaughters Jadyn, 10, and Haley, 11. The young ladies showed off their aesthetic sensibilities at Craftech, where they created flower vases for Mother’s Day.

While the girls were sugar and spice at Craftech, they also appreciated their tour of the gun line at Potomac River Test Range. “The gun range was cool,” Jadyn said.

At the NSF Dahlgren Fire Department, the fun continued as children sat in fire trucks and tried on firefighter equipment. Firefighters “Bubby” Frye and Matt Ellis helped some very excited children use the fire hose to put out a small “fire” constructed from wooden cutouts. The firefighters were unable, however, to save a foolish photographer who strayed downrange from being soaked by the young marksmen, to the delight of onlookers.

Benjamin, 5, was ecstatic when asked about the day’s activities as he climbed through a fire truck. “I’ve seen my Daddy’s office and I [saw] the melting gun,” he explained, jubilant.

“The lasers,” corrected his smiling dad, Christopher Reichart, branch head at NSWCDD Q22.

Benjamin, undaunted, went on to describe the day. “It was great!” he said. “And I’m seeing a fire truck right now!”

The enthusiastic youngster said he enjoyed “everything” and had narrowed down his choices about what he wanted to be when he grows up.” I think want to be in the Navy. because I want to see all this cool stuff!”

Like many of the parents whose children enjoyed Bring Your Child to Work Day, Reichart thanked organizers for creating the day’s diverse activities. “They’ve done a great job putting out the demonstrations and showing [the children] the very basics of science,” he said. “It gets the kids involved at an early age and hopefully inspires them through high school and college. and they’re having fun. You get so much more interest in math and science when they’re having fun. It’s great that [Dahlgren] supports this sort of stuff.”