By Vanderberg, Julie
Parks & Recreation , Vol. 36, No. 12
Duty, Honor, Country. This is the motto of the premier leadership institution in the world. The United States Military Academy at West Point is celebrating 200 years of timeless leadership. Famous graduates like McArthur, Lee, Eisenhower, and Patton symbolize the excellence expected at West Point. Supporting youth leadership at West Point is another great organization, West Point Youth Services.
West Point Youth Services supports 824 families that currently enroll their children in its programs. Youth Services offers a multitude of programs to the youth of military personnel and Department of Defense civilian employees.
Army youth programs have four service areas that serve as the framework for program delivery. The four service areas that are used as a guide to offer all-inclusive programming are 1) Sports, fitness and health options; 2) arts, recreation and leisure activities; 3) life skills, citizenship and leadership opportunities and 4) mentoring, education and intervention support services. Baseline programs are part of the means for putting skills from the four service areas into practice. To promote consistent services for youth Army-wide, all Middle School/Teen programs offer the following baseline programs.
The Youth Sponsorship Program is congressionally mandated to facilitate the transitions youth encounter during frequent relocations. West Point offers a welcome camp to incoming youth and special functions to introduce families to Youth Services. Teen councils offer youth opportunities for a voice in planning and conducting programs, communicating with commanders and developing leadership and problem solving skills. A team of teens volunteer yearly to speak with the military commanders to voice the opinions and needs of teens on post. Community service highlights the Army's Promise Passport program that provides opportunities for youth to contribute to the well-being of their community through services that can be recognized locally. Two Boys and Girls Club youth leadership groups have developed recognition at West Point. The Keystone Club for g-12 graders and the Torch Club for youth in grades 6-8 have made significant contributions to West Point by participating in tree planting activities, Christmas Tree sales, local food drives, pet food drives, Scenic Hudson River Sweep Program, Special Olympics and MS Walk-a-thon Youth Services is dedicated to creating America's next generation of leaders executing the Prudential Youth Leadership Institute program designed to promote leadership. The lessons and exercises concentrate on community analysis, goal-setting, team building, project planning, and decision making. Opportunities for youth to become peer mentors is also available through the program Safe or Sorry (SOS). Teen facilitators take the role of heightening the awareness among their peers on tobacco, alcohol and drugs. This program is designed to reinforce values of keeping safe for a lifetime. Jim Bennett, Youth Development Coordinator, has developed a Work Force Prep curriculum that focuses on developing leadership and career building skills. Resume writing, interviewing techniques, communication, conflict resolution and computer and technical skills are a few of the classes available to youth. Youth are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and fun while the staff provides innovative ways to teach and guide.
Self directed activities provide opportunities for youth to experience a variety of leisure, social and skill building. The need for after school programming has grown significantly within the past decade. Studies show that activities provided between 3-7pm can have a great impact on choices that youth make at this time. West Point youth are fortunate to have a 15,000 square foot building with a basketball court, common/snack area, kitchen, computer lab and teen and middle school lounges offering daily structured programs. Attractive and superbly maintained, the West Point Youth Center has received the Garrison Commanders Award for Excellence on the appearance and maintenance of the facility and grounds. …