Usafe services: youth summer program – recreation for children at air force bases
The United States Air Forces in Europe, Child and Youth Programs office, offers one of the most successful and comprehensive command wide initiatives for youth in the Department of Defense. With nearly 18,000 eligible dependent youth to serve spread across Europe, a need to provide activities and events that are comparable to those available to youth in the United States is the objective.
Most people are aware of the large AF installations, such as Ramstein AB, Aviano AB and RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall, and the full compliment of recreation programs available to youth living in those communities. However, USAFE Services also provides support to eight Geographically Separated Units (GSU’s) within their area of responsibility. All of these small installation have a Services presence, but only one, Moron AB, Spain, provides full time staff to offer youth programs. The other installation, Stavanger in Norway, Kalkar and Beuchel in Germany, Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Vokel in The Netherlands, Ghedi in Italy, and Ankara in Turkey do not have staff assigned to run youth programs. For years, youth at the GSU’s were forgotten. Things changed about 5 years ago, when Mr. David Quinn arrived on the USAFE Services staff. He immediately identified the needs of the youth at these small installations and went to work to advocate for funding and programs. Since that time, the summer youth programs sponsored by USAFE Services have touched 15,000 youth from installations throughout the command. Two types of programs are offered for youth, one a residential program away from the installations and the other are half or full day programs at the installation. Installations are assigned a quota of youth and staff to fill for each of the residential programs and USAFE Services funds the program, to include ground or air travel when necessary.
Every year since Mr. Quinn introduced the programs they have grown in popularity, with expert assistance from base and the HQ USAFE Services staff. Mr Quinn has since moved on to a position at the Air Force Services Agency in San Antonio and the USAFE Services youth summer programs are now under’ the direction by Mr Stev Jerome and Mr Eric Weston. Three of the four residential program focus on developing leadership, character, self esteem, critical thinking skill through outdoor adventure programming. The ROPES program, in coordination with the Outdoor Recreation program at the 52nd Services Squadron at Spangdalhem AB, Germany, uses high and tow ropes activities, to challenge 50 teens’ ages 13-18. The Youth Exploration Adventure (YEA) program, in coordination for the first time with the Outdoor Recreation program at the 100th Services Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, UK is for 50 youth, ages 10-12. Activities include archery, spelunking, hiking, climbing and biking. The YEA program has been previously coordinated with the 423 ABS Outdoor Recreation program at RAF Molesworth, UK. The Teen Adventure Program, at AFRC Chiemsee in Germany, is for 13-18 year olds. 85 teens attend this five-day, four night program and are given expert instruction in sailing, white water rafting, windsurfing and biking. The final residential program is Space Camp. For the first time this summer the program was hosted at two different sites, one in Belgium and one in are Turkey. The 60 youth, aged 10-15, had an opportunity to simulate a space shuttle launch and landing, operate a Mobile Maneuvering nit, build and launch a rocket, learn about the solar system and replicate a space freefall on the multi-axis simulator. This Space Camp experience is similar to what a youth would get at a NASA Space Camp in the United States. These four residential programs are extremely popular and youth often compete in local essay contests, science experiments or volunteer many hours in the community for an opportunity to be selected as participants. A new initiative this summer was a partnership with HQ United States Army Europe, Child and Youth Services. The partnership allowed for 10 Army teens to attend the USAFE residential camps in return for 10 USAFE youth attending the International Youth Camp (IYC) in Santona, Spain. The IYC is a 2 week residential camp, for 240 teens from all 17 NATO nations. Activities include the arts, drama, outdoor recreation, technology and plenty of time teens to share cultural background with others. IYC provides an opportunity for youth from European countries to come together to share common interest, learn to value cultural diversity and participate in mixed nationality team building opportunities. At the end of each camp participants are encouraged to submit an after action report to the USAFE to help improve the programs.
Since there are limited number of spaces for the residential camps and not every child will get the opportunity to attend, USAFE Services also funds full or part day programs all installations to compliment the existing services for the large installations and to offer services at the smaller installations. All of the eight small installations receive the University of Northern Iowa Camp Adventure program. At the installations request, USAFE Services will fund from 3 -10 weeks of programming. For the installations with existing youth programs, the command has contracted with a variety of companies to offer part or full day programs that help meet the Air Force Youth Development Strategy. These types of programs vary from year to year but have included archery, computer, photo, drama (offered by Missoula Children’s theater), sports programs and character and leadership development activities. Contractors travel from base to base over the 10 weeks of summer to provide these services. These programs can accommodate from 24 to 80 youth per week per installation.
At the conclusion of each summer the USAFE youth staff surveys the programs to evaluate the success of both types of summer programs. Success of the programs can be seen at every level, from youth engaging in follow on outdoor recreating programs at local installations to drama and photography programs starting up in youth center. The USAFE staff is in the planning stages for the 2002 summer programs. If you are interested in finding out more about USAFE summer events e-mail Jerome Stephen. Jerome@sembach.af.mil
THREE USAFE TEENS AND THEIR FAMILIES RETURBN FROM “EXTREME ADVENTURE.”
The three August winners of the USAFE Services Extreme Summer contest arrived back in Europe 17 September from a “once-in-a-life-time” trip. What they thought was to be a week in Seattle, Washington to attend the Destiny’s Child concert, ended up being what they called their “Extreme Adventure” at a Canadian military camp named Camp Aldershot in Nova Scotia.
The winners and their families left Frankfurt, Germany on 11 September and were headed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where they would connect to Seattle. As the tragedies occurred in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, their U.S. Airways plane was diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia where they were lodged at Camp Aldershot for four days.
Winner Craig Hormann, aged 13, of Moron AB in Spain said that everyone was confused in the beginning as to what was happening. “We really weren’t sure where we were going to stay, but when they took us to Camp Aldershot it was really cool to stay at a Canadian military base. There were hundreds of other people there from all over the world, and all of them were stranded tike us. Even though it wasn’t Destiny’s Child, it was stilt fun,” Hormann said.
The Red Cross provided food, shelter and other amenities to the stranded travelers. “No one seemed to know how tong we would be here. We kept thinking that it might still be possible to get to Seattle to the concert on the 13th, but we soon realized we were going to be there for awhile,” said Kevin Wallior, aged 16, of RAF Motesworth in the United Kingdom. “Actually, we were really lucky to be at Camp Aldershot as we heard there were people who were stranded and sleeping on their planes. Where we were wasn’t fancy, but we had everything we needed and we tried to make the best of it,” Wallior added.
According to David Gonzales, aged 14, of Ramstein AB in Germany, the trip was named the “Extreme Adventure”.” We thought we were going to see Destiny’s Child in concert in Seattle, but instead went to a place that otherwise T would have never been able to see. The countryside there was really beautiful and everyone was very nice to us -it was sort of like a big camping trip,” Gonzales said. “We started calling the trip “Extreme Adventure” as it truly was an adventure, as well as a bit extreme. We didn’t know from one day to the next where we were going to be,” he added.
The USAFE Escort, Gabrielle Hartman, said the winners and their families made the best of the situation even though it was far from what their expectations were. “We were devastated when we heard the news of what happened in the states and really didn’t know what to anticipate next. We felt very safe at Camp Aldershot and the Canadians and the Red Cross were so good to us. They took us downtown, showed us around, took us for meals and provided us with everything we needed for those days. They also had a telephone service where we could make phone calls to our families daily,” said Hartman. “We even had entertainment one night — the King Fisher Fiddlers of Nova Scotia. It wasn’t Destiny’s Child, but the Canadians did their very best to make sure our stay was comfortable and that we had some diversions to take our minds off of what was happening in the world,” Hartman added.
USAFE Services will provide the three winners with laptop computers in compensation for the trip that didn’t go exactly as planned. “II think it’s great that the kids will be getting laptops. Actually, we all agreed in our family that we weren’t planning any further trips for awhile so we’re happy that it wasn’t another trip,” said TSgt William Hormann of Moron AB, Spain. “With that said, we had a great time overall it was truly an “Extreme Adventure” and one that my sons and I will never forget,” Hormann added.
The members of Destiny’s Child have also sent a gift package to each winner which includes a letter informing them they were sorry they were not able to meet them and congratulating them on their Extreme Summer win.
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Recreation and Park Association
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group