By Aimee MaloneJuly 13, 2018
Fort McCoy Child and Youth Services (CYS) recently received a $10,000 Installation Management Command (IMCOM) grant to institute an Army Ready Resilient Teen Resilience program.
Throughout the 2018 summer camp, the teen program at the School Age Center/Youth Center will incorporate lessons and activities designed to teach and increase resilience.
Army children face significant challenges in their lives, including frequent moves, parental deployments, and the possibility of both mental and physical injury to a service member parent, IMCOM officials said. But Army children can also learn to use these challenges to their advantage through resilience training.
According to the grant application, the goal of the program is to help Fort McCoy teens develop a more positive outlook and learn how to cope with issues that arise in their daily lives. While resiliency is important to all members of an Army family, CYS Supervisory Program Specialist Tammie Noe, a master resilience trainer, said it is especially important for teens, who are growing more mature and preparing for adulthood.
"The point of it is to teach a common language between the military parents and their children," Noe said. "All the Soldiers are taught resilience skills. These lessons are adapted for our youth."
Noe said staff members also plan to work with local partners to host resiliency and communication workshops for parents and other adults who work with Fort McCoy youth.
Resiliency skills are taught a couple times each week during summer camp and cover a variety of topics, including problem solving, teamwork, counteracting negativity, and identifying character strengths.
"I think all the skills are very good life skills," Noe said. "Last week, we learned about goal setting and how to accomplish your goals. Every single one of these skills, you can use every single day of your life."
In the first week of the program, Fort McCoy teens participated in an activity to help them understand resiliency. The teens were given an egg and a tennis ball, then asked to throw each of them. The objective was to allow the teens to understand the difference between what it means to be resilient and what it may look like they aren't. The tennis ball provided a visual demonstration of what it means to "bounce back."
Some of the other activities involve teamwork and creative thinking, such as attempting to get a water balloon into a bucket using only a pool noodle and some tape.
"That's all part of resilience, too - being able to adapt to changes," Noe said.
She said her favorite activity and skill set is called "Hunt the Good Stuff."
"It's a simple skill," Noe said. "Each day, you find three good things. It doesn't matter what it is. It can be that you had a cup of coffee this morning and it was really good.
"You reflect on why it was a good thing and how you can make it happen again. And it literally will change the whole dynamic of the way the group talks, just that simple skill."
Promoting positive thinking and learning to change challenges into advantages are two important goals of the resiliency program.
"I'm hoping to eventually change (the teens') thought process to see the bigger picture," Noe said. She said it's important for teens to learn that events that seem disastrous at first can be overcome.
SAC/YC summer camp provides youth a chance to enjoy their time away from school while still promoting learning, staff members said. Activities are planned every day that focus on character and leadership development; educational support and career development; sports, fitness, and recreation; health, wellness, and life skills; and the arts.
CYS staff members make use of Fort McCoy facilities during summer camp by visiting the Rumpel Fitness Center pool, Pine View Campground, McCoy's Community Center for bowling, and more. Youth also have the chance to go on field trips throughout the summer, including water parks and museums.
For more information on CYS, call Parent Central Services at 608-388-8956.