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Aaron Rodgers Surprises Kids Who Lost Their Dads In The Military

02/06/2015 04:11 pm ET | Updated Feb 06, 2015

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers has returned for season three of "It's Aaron," in which the NFL MVP visits nonprofits in and around Wisconsin to highlight the critical work they do.

In the latest episode, Rodgers spends time on a boat with four kids attending "Camp Hometown Heroes," a free summer camp for children who have lost a loved one in the military.

"Military children are often quite isolated as few can fully understand what they have experienced," camp co-founder Neil Willenson told The Huffington Post in an email. "This isolation is heightened for children of fallen service members as once the death occurs they often move off the base quickly. They lose their parent, school, friends and home all at once."

In addition to standard camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts, and fishing, Hometown Heroes holds special counseling-oriented events to help kids process their grief. For one such event, campers decorated a square of fabric in tribute to their loved one; the squares were then sewn into a quilt.

After he surprised them on the boat, the kids showed the quilt to Rodgers.

"I love camp, but I wish the day when my dad died never came," said Kylee, one of three sisters on the trip, reading her square for Rodgers.

"I miss you dad, I wish I had more time with you to hang out and to mess around like the dudes that we are," read a boy named Dylan, who lost his father when he was 6. "I'm looking after mom, in a way. Love you dad."

The group also spent time fishing, during which Kylee amused Rodgers by confessing she's not much of a football fan because "there's too much going on."

Since 9/11, some 5,000 U.S. children have lost a parent who served in the military, Willenson told Fox 6 news. The week-long Hometown Heroes camp is completely free for participants, including air travel, and is sponsored by donors from around the country.

"Ultimately, we hope children leave Camp Hometown Heroes feeling that brighter days are ahead," Willenson said. "At last, the children are with others who understand what it is like to lose a love one who served our nation."

He added that most campers return several years in a row, as "healing is not a one-time event, it is a lifelong process."

Donations to the program can be made at hometownheroes.org.

"The more we do this," Rodgers said in the video, "you just find so many amazing organizations that are right here in our backyard and are doing some incredible work with kids."

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