Military kids go behind-the-scenes at SeaWorld

Posted at 6:46 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 22:16:00-05

A group of kids managed to get a behind-the-scenes tour of SeaWorld before the park even opened on Thursday.

The kids touched, saw and did it all. They are from military families, which hits home for SeaWorld worker Kevin Carr.

"It's hard growing up fast," Carr said.

Carr was eight when his dad deployed to Vietnam. As the oldest child, he played dad to his brothers and sisters.

"He was gone for more than a year, and I had to grow up very quickly," Carr said.

Carr signed up to serve just like his dad. He was an Army reservist for 32 years, and he passes the struggles he went through to his son, Connor.

"It was just difficult even for me to be deployed and knowing my kids are at home without a father to talk to," Carr said.

Connor, now a senior at Point Loma Senior High School, said, "I had to grow up pretty quickly at age nine."

That was when Conner became a big brother.

"I had to be a father figure for my younger brother," Connor added.

He said his dad did the best he could and Skyped with him every night at 9:00 p.m. It still was not easy, and he broke down from time to time. When his dad was in Iraq in 2010, Connor saw a student crying during lunch.

"Both his parents deployed at the same time," Connor explained.

He had to do something, so he started the Military Kids Unite club at Dana Middle School to act as a support system for military kids. He said 50 students showed up for the weekly meeting and fun, and it has since spread to other schools.

"Connor's mother and I are extremely proud of him because he wasn't thinking about himself," Carr said. "He was thinking about the other kids."

He was thinking about kids like his younger brother, who is now in the club.

Connor is headed off to college this year, and once he is finished, he plans to serve just like his dad.

The thought of that brought tears to Carr's eyes.

Active duty service members volunteers to be with the group on Thursday, which they often do. Many veterans work at SeaWorld, so they jumped in to offer the tour for free.