By Maranda FlynnApril 3, 2014
For after-school and summer entertainment, parents of middle and high school students might consider the Middle School and Teen Program offered at the youth center on Fort Huachuca.
This program, which is certified by the Department of Defense, offers activities organized within the Army's Baseline Programming, including four core service areas: arts, recreation and leisure; life skills, citizenship and leadership; sports, fitness and health; and academic support, mentoring and intervention services, according to the website, http://www.mwrhuachuca.com/middleschool.html.
For some, it's more than just an escape from boredom. Pearce Alonzo, 11, explained that his favorite part of the youth center is Friday nights. "We have really fun activities and we get to stay there a long time," he said. "Sometimes we get to play laser tag or capture the flag. We get to play outside or indoors and they turn out the lights."
Regardless of his or her personality, it seems there is something available for all boys and girls. The facility is fully equipped with a large variety of activities, including:
• Computer lab and homework instructor, available from after school until 6 p.m. every day
• Multi-purpose gymnasium to play basketball, dodge ball and more
• Skate park for skate boarding and roller-skating, complete with ramps and rails
• Media room to watch movies or sing karaoke
• Game room with a pool table, ping pong table, and an air hockey table
• Video games such as Xbox and PlayStation
• Building blocks
• Arts and crafts
• Board games
Along with activities, an assortment of themed clubs are offered on different days of the week such as crochet, cooking, fitness and weights, boxing, jewelry making, sports and more.
The Middle School and Teen Program director, Deborah Wambach, explained that the cooking club is currently among the more popular groups. Hennah Woodruff, a Child and Youth Programs assistant, has been instructing the program for four years.
"The group she has right now is on top of nutritional value. [Hennah] has taught them how to read it and how to count the calories," Wambach said. "And it's all over the stove while they are cooking so its not like they sit there and get lectured … she even has boys in there. Everyone gets to talking and asking all kinds of questions."
Students are provided with a snack at 3:30 p.m., and a second snack is offered at 4:30 p.m. for those who arrive later due to sports or other activities. A soda machine and snack machine are available on site as well.
The Middle School and Teen Program is open to youth grades 6 -- 12 during the school year and operates: Monday -- Thursday, 3 -- 8 p.m., Friday, 3 -- 10 p.m., and Saturday, 1 -- 10 p.m. On Saturday, those in grades one -- five can enjoy the facility from 1 -- 5 p.m. During school-out days and vacation days, the youth center is open Monday -- Thursday, 8 a.m. -- 10 p.m. There is no cost to attend.
"From a parent's perspective, the program provides a safe haven for the kids to go to and then they are engaged in healthy activities versus just running around out on the streets. It keeps them out of trouble," said Dan Thurecht, a Child and Youth Programs assistant.
A worldwide lock-in will be held April 25 -- 26, 8 p.m. -- 7 a.m. at the center. Activities will be conducted all night. These have been created by students who regularly attend the program.
A day camp program operates during summer months and includes field trips, special events, activities, and trips to Irwin pool. Summer hours are Monday -- Thursday, 8 a.m. -- 8 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. -- 10 p.m. The center is open on Saturdays but hours fluctuate and it is advised to call to verify. A fee is required for the summer program. For rates or to get more information about the summer program, call Child, Youth and School Services, 533.0738.
To use the facility, children must be registered with Child, Youth and School Services but the Middle School and Teen Program is affiliated with programs in the community such as Boys' and Girls' Club of America, 4-H and Character Counts.
Parents should note, due to budget restraints, the Hired Program has been put on hold until further notice.
The youth center is located in Building 49013, Cushing Street. For more information, call 533.3027 or email Deborah.email@example.com.