By Ms. Ashley E Braun (IMCOM)July 31, 2009
BAMBERG, Germany - As July draws to a close, participants in U.S Army Garrison Bamberg's youth summer programs have one month left of trips and activities to take part in before the start of the school year.
Taking advantage of the warmer weather and slackened time restraints that mark the summer season, Morale Welfare and Recreation services work together to provide local youth with a multitude of unique sports, adventure, arts and science opportunities.
The organization that runs Bamberg's teen center in the JFK Multiplex, Child Youth and School Services, hosted an end-of-school barbecue June 9, providing students with the chance to celebrate the beginning of summer. Corwin Reed, CYSS Youth Tech Instructor, said about 70 teens participated, making the event an overall success.
"The barbecue is an annual event in which we tap the middle and high school council youth for ideas of games and music that they would like to do during that time," Reed said. "They had to vote on whether they wanted a dance or a barbecue and of course they chose the barbecue."
Another program called Camp A.R.M.Y. (for Adventure, Resilience, Memories, Youth) Challenge hosted nine Bamberg students this summer. The program integrated activity camps entitled Adventure, Sports, Fitness, and Health, in a Europe-wide program set in Bitburg, Germany. Hosted by Installation Management Command-Europe, the annual camp ran June 15 - 19 and was specifically designed for children of deployed servicemembers in Europe.
After being nominated and receiving Bamberg's Youth of the Year award, Julian Pollitt decided to attend the camp.
"I felt obligated to go and represent Bamberg," he said. "I wanted to help build up our participation."
The camp further focused on a combination of individual and team-building events.
"There were sports camps held such as basketball, track, and soccer," Reed said. "There was a ropes course as well as rock climbing. This year they offered culinary arts for the youth, which was a large success. They prepared a meat and veggie tray for the Youth Leadership Forum participants. The food the kids made was awesome."
Beyond physical exercise, the YLF played a role in encouraging leadership and problem-solving challenges in the 15- to 18-year-old group of participants.
To incorporate social, mental and collaborative challenges, those involved were faced with deciding on five issues of concern to adolescents in U.S. Army's Europe communities. They were then instructed to organize these issues and articulate them to those in leadership roles.
Pollitt, as one of the YLF leaders, prepared a brief on the issue of funding.
"I opened up by discussing equal distribution," he said. "We talked about it as a group and decided that it was definitely an issue for all posts in U.S. Army Europe to get an equal amount of funding."
The second task for the participants was to create a youth public service announcement for AFN.
"A few of the goals were designed to give the youth the opportunity to learn from experts, meet other youth, and mainly to challenge them in their areas of interest," Reed said. "From 0900 in the morning to 2100 in the evening it was virtually non-stop."
The Science Camp, June 29 - July 2 for 6th through 8th graders, was designed to incorporate the dynamics of movement and building a reed motor.
The week also would have included a trip to the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History in Frankfurt, but had too low participation.
Reed, who instructs youth technology at JFK Multiplex, is undertaking several projects with interested teens.
"We are trying to set up a Web site completely run and managed by the kids in our Web design and videography classes," Reed said. "They are helping us and we are helping them."
Reed challenged teen center attendees to creatively sculpt and position clay to create short animated films.
"We worked on story boards," he said. "We have a group of kids who are working specifically on videography and film techniques. So we incorporated some of that into the claymation portion of the technology camp."
Jessica Smith, the art camp instructor at JFK Multiplex, began a series of art sessions July 27.
"We attain supplies in advance because we don't want to not have enough for the kids who come," she said. "So even if we don't fill up enough slots for the class, we will still maintain a classroom full of art supplies for whoever is interested."
Smith, who attended a fine arts school for eight years, was not looking for a job when she moved to Germany, but has since found the teen center to be a perfect fit for her.
"I have a strong background and natural gift," she said. "On top of which the teaching gene runs in my family."
The first art camp, which ran one week, focused on two-dimensional design for 6th through 8th graders.
Tori Morris said she originally attended because her mother signed her up for the program.
"I'm glad I came," she said. "I like to draw and it's kind of boring being on post in the summer."
Because Morris was the only attendee on the first day of camp, she was able to receive one-on-one instruction from Smith.
The second installment will run Aug 3 - 7 and will focus on oil painting for high school students.
"Unfortunately we have kids coming and going in the summer," said Jessica Smith. "We just can't keep steady numbers with families moving and traveling."
Attempting to keep youth active and learning through all of the summer months, the CYSS has two trips tentatively scheduled for August. Tripsdrill Fun Park for 6th through 8th graders is set to take place Aug 11, and a 7th through 12th grade outing to Salzburg, Austria, is scheduled for Aug 13.
Parent and Youth Orientation Aug 28 is required for all students entering the 6th grade in the fall of 2009, newcomers to Bamberg entering 6th through 12th grade in the upcoming school year, students who have yet to attend school orientation and Schweinfurt residents enrolled to use the Bamberg Youth Program.
According to Reed, just drawing teens into an active and learning environment at the teen center is the overarching goal. Whether structured and pre-planned programs are running or not, the center offers a technology lab, art room, basketball courts and other activities for local youths.
"We will keep on offering whatever we can," he said.