USAFE Services: Youth Summer Program

Article excerpt

ACTIVITIES INCLUDE ARCHERY, SPELUNKING, HIKING , CLIMBING, AND BIKING. ALSO INSTRUCTION IN SAILING, WHITE WATER RAFTING, AND WINDSURFING.

The United States Air Forces in Europe, Child and Youth Programs office, offers one of the most successful and comprehensive command wide initiatives for youth in the Department of Defense. With nearly 18,000 eligible dependent youth to serve spread across Europe, a need to provide activities and events that are comparable to those available to youth in the United States is the objective.

Most people are aware of the Large AF installations, such as Ramstein AB, Aviano AB and RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall, and the full compliment of recreation programs available to youth living in those communities. However, USAFE Services also provides support to eight Geographically Separated Units (GSU's) within their area of responsibility. All of these small installation have a Services presence, but only one, Moron AB, Spain, provides full time staff to offer youth programs. The other installation, Stavanger in Norway, Kalkar and Beuchel in Germany, Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Vokel in The NetherLands, Ghedi in Italy, and Ankara in Turkey do not have staff assigned to run youth programs. For years, youth at the GSU's were forgotten. Things changed about 5 years ago, when Mr. David Quinn arrived on the USAFE Services staff. He immediately identified the needs of the youth at these small installations and went to work to advocate for funding and programs. Since that time, the summer youth programs sponsored by USAFE Services have touched 15,000 youth from installations throughout the command. Two types of programs are offered for youth, one a residential program away from the installations and the other are half or full day programs at the installation. Installations are assigned a quota of youth and staff to fill for each of the residential programs and USAFE Services funds the program, to include ground or air travel when necessary.

Every year since Mr. Quinn introduced the programs they have grown in popularity, with expert assistance from base and the HQ USAFE Services staff. Mr Quinn has since moved on to a position at the Air Force Services Agency in San Antonio and the USAFE Services youth summer programs are now under the direction by Mr Steve Jerome and Mr Eric Weston. Three of the four residential program focus on developing Leadership, character, self esteem, critical thinking skill through outdoor adventure programming. The ROPES program, in coordination with the Outdoor Recreation program at the 52nd Services Squadron at Spangdalhem AB, Germany, uses high and low ropes activities, to challenge 50 teens' ages 13-18. The Youth Exploration Adventure (YEA) program, in coordination for the first time with the Outdoor Recreation program at the 100th Services Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, UK is for 50 youth, ages 10-12. Activities include archery, spelunking, hiking, climbing and biking. The YEA program has been previously coordinated with the 423 ABS Outdoor Recreation program at RAF Molesworth, UK. The Teen Adventure Program, at AFRC Chiemsee in Germany, is for 13-18 year olds. 85 teens attend this five-day, four night program and are given expert instruction in sailing, white water rafting, windsurfing and biking. The final residential program is Space Camp. For the first time this summer the program was hosted at two different sites, one in Belgium and one in are Turkey. The 60 youth, aged 10-15, had an opportunity to simulate a space shuttle Launch and landing, operate a Mobile Maneuvering Unit, build and launch a rocket, learn about the solar system and replicate a space freefall on the multi-axis simulator. This Space Camp experience is similar to what a youth would get at a NASA Space Camp in the United States. These four residential programs are extremely popular and youth often compete in local essay contests, science experiments or volunteer many hours in the community for an opportunity to be selected as participants. …