FORT BENNING, Ga. (Feb. 6, 2013) -- It's called The Shack, located across from Gowdy Field, and it's like a second home to dozens of Fort Benning teens who are members of Club Beyond. It's the place where high school students gather every Tuesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. On Wednesday nights, after dinner at The Infantry Center Chapel, teens meet there for Bible study and fellowship.
Club Beyond is a faith-based ministry for military teens designed to give middle and high school students a fun environment where they can hang out with their peers. Because Club Beyond programs exist at so many military installations in the U.S. and overseas, it often provides a way for teens who have recently PCSed to make friends in their new homes.
Graham Hoskins, an active Club Beyond member, said it's a place of stability from duty station to duty station.
"As an 'Army brat,' friendship becomes a difficult thing," he said. "With constant moving, kids make temporary friends and do not connect on deeper levels. This is not the case with Club Beyond, though."
Steve Paquette, Fort Benning's Club Beyond director, said the club offers a place for post teens to spend time with others who "understand the trials military teens face."
Paquette started volunteering with Young Life, a youth ministry that sponsors the Fort Benning club in 2001. In 2004, he became the club's director.
"I love what I do here at Fort Benning, because it's what God has called me to do," he said. "I get to share the message of Jesus Christ with these teenagers and they get to take that message and apply it to their lives daily and make choices based on who Jesus is and how he wants them to live their life. So that's an amazing part of what I do. And I can act like a teenager half the time, so that's a lot of fun as well."
While high schoolers meet weekly at The Shack, middle school students have their time together from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. Tuesdays at the Faith Middle School cafeteria. Besides regular meetings, Club Beyond sponsors activities for students throughout the school year and summer.
Highlights include the annual ski trip for high school students, the spring retreat for middle school, Souled Out summer youth camp and mission trips.
This year, a new event is on the horizon. The Paquettes have decided to host "Can't Lose," a purity conference for Fort Benning teens.
The two-day event, planned around Valentine's Day and set for Feb. 15-16, centers on the theme "You Can't Lose When you Follow God's Plan."
Doug Compton will be the guest speaker and local artists Jonathan and Lisa Moore will perform.
"I think the world today is telling students the idea of living a pure life according to the Bible isn't important," said Paige Paquette, Steve Paquette's wife and co-leader of Club Beyond. "We wanted to give Fort Benning teens a chance to learn more about living pure in all aspects of life."
Club Beyond is always looking for new members and adult volunteers.
To find out how to get involved or for more information about the Can't Lose conference, contact Steve Paquette by phone or email: 706-681-8948 or firstname.lastname@example.org.