In a five-part series, feature stories will be based on families of service members and daily life on the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) in Gulfport during the worldwide COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

by Ryan Labadens, NCBC Public Affairs

There’s an old saying about variety being the spice the life, which can definitely be the case with any activities that families and their children use to keep themselves occupied during times when maintaining social distance is important, like it is with COVID-19.

The staff at Balfour Beatty Communities, which services the families living in the housing communities for Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, have been trying to come up with new ways to help give parents, children and other residents of the NCBC Gulfport community engaged and entertained, both indoors and out, while maintaining the recommended social distancing. One of these activities has been something called a rainbow hunt.

“Our LifeWorks Coordinator, Leah Ladner, had come up with the idea for a rainbow hunt as a way to get people out and about in their communities and help give residents and children a fun activity to do while still maintaining social distancing,” said Jessica Ladner (no relation), Balfour Beatty Communities community manager.

Balfour Beatty Communities posted the suggestion on their Facebook page (which is labeled NCBC Gulfport Homes), letting residents know that they could draw, paint or otherwise create artist images of rainbows and place them in the windows of their homes. Then residents and their children could walk around the neighborhoods and see how many rainbows they could find.

One of the neighbor residents, Oliece Nicole Nash, spouse of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 Builder 3rd Class Nicole Nash (who is currently deployed), saw the post for the activity and decided to add another suggested hunt to the list – a bear hunt. In addition to pictures or rainbows, residents could put teddy bears or artwork of bears in their windows for children to see how many they could spot in their neighborhoods.

She decided to spread the word about the two hunts to other spouses on the base, and the hunts have taken off since then over the past week.

Nash said she enjoyed seeing how this was giving families another fun activity to do during these stressful times.

“I love that the communities are coming together and showing love and kindness,” said Nash. “This has been a great distraction with the social distancing. I see so many friends and families out for walks, pointing out the items they have found and getting so excited. It really makes me happy to see that even through these tough times, these little gestures bring such happiness to the community.”