Marine Corps Military Child of the Year Jackson: “I love seeing people’s faces light up and smile”

When Semper Fi Fund Kids Camp volunteer and 18-year-old high school senior Jackson learned that he was named 2017 Marine Corps Military Child of the Year, he was — in his own words — “overjoyed. My mom and I cried at that incredible honor.”  This award, a national award, recognizes one young person from each of the six branches of the Armed Forces “for their scholarship, volunteerism, leadership, extracurricular involvement, and other criteria while facing the challenges of military family life.”

Jackson’s work ethic and personality have been on full display the past two years at Semper Fi Fund Kids Camp, which provides a week of growth through adventure as campers are matched up with motivated high school student mentors. Jackson was recommended for the role of mentor.

Semper Fi Fund Kids Camp mentors are high school students, recommended for the role based on their leadership and commitment. As the child of a military family, Jackson understands the unique needs of the program recipients. Mentors are fully trained for their role before spending the week with camp participants, beginning an adventure they will continue together throughout the school year.

“The camp has helped me grow as a person,” Jackson says. “The camp is 
sacred place where we connected 
as a family. I believe the kids felt the
same way. They had to trust us and listen to us in order to get through the

“Jackson loves the Semper Fi Fund Kids Camp,” Somer, Jackson’s mother adds. “It was the highlight of the past two summers for him. I think he enjoyed the experience as much as, if not more than, the kids he mentored.”

“The thing I like best about Semper Fi Fund Kids Camp is bonding with the children,” Jackson adds. “They become like brothers to you. The first day or two, the campers don’t really talk, but seeing them open up to all of us is unlike any other feeling.”

The Semper Fi Fund Kids Camp is not the only place where you will find Jackson volunteering.  “I volunteer to help out the community that I live in,” says Jackson, who suffers from skeletal dysplasia, a condition that hampers the growth and development of his bones and joints. “I want it to be the best that it can be. I love seeing people’s faces light up and smile. Making people smile does not cost anything but time. If I can brighten their day for just a moment, I take the chance.”

“We almost could not believe it,” said Somer, Jackson’s mother. “It means so much. He works so hard and does so much, for him to be recognized for all his hard work and dedication is amazing. For him to be selected over all of the other military children that were nominated is a testament to his work ethic and personality.”