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Summer fun at the youth center

Phillip Wiggins, 6, son of Lt. Col. Janine Wiggins, Air Force Global Strike Command, swims to the other side of the west pool with the assistance of Colton Conrad, Barksdale lifeguard, on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., June 1. Phillip visited the pool with more than 30 other children as a field trip while attending the Barksdale Youth Center summer camp. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman La'Shanette V. Garrett)(RELEASED)

Phillip Wiggins, 6, son of Lt. Col. Janine Wiggins, Air Force Global Strike Command, swims to the other side of the west pool with the assistance of Colton Conrad, Barksdale lifeguard, on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., June 1. Phillip visited the pool with more than 30 other children as a field trip while attending the Barksdale Youth Center summer camp. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman La'Shanette V. Garrett)(RELEASED)

Children attending the Barksdale Youth Center summer camp pick blueberries during a field trip to Blueberry Hill Farm in Haughton, La., May 29. The camp is open to children of Department of Defense civilians, active-duty dependents, base contractors, DOD contractors, Army and Air Force Exchange Services employees and reservists on active duty orders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman La'Shanette V. Garrett)(RELEASED)

Children attending the Barksdale Youth Center summer camp pick blueberries during a field trip to Blueberry Hill Farm in Haughton, La., May 29. The camp is open to children of Department of Defense civilians, active-duty dependents, base contractors, DOD contractors, Army and Air Force Exchange Services employees and reservists on active duty orders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman La'Shanette V. Garrett)(RELEASED)

Trey Thomas, 9, son of Tech. Sgt. Michael Thomas, 2nd Force Support Squadron, picks blueberries during a field trip with the Barksdale Youth Center summer camp at Blueberry Hill Farm in Haughton, La., May 29. The children picked more than 25 pounds of berries to share with their family. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman La'Shanette V. Garrett)(RELEASED)

Trey Thomas, 9, son of Tech. Sgt. Michael Thomas, 2nd Force Support Squadron, picks blueberries during a field trip with the Barksdale Youth Center summer camp at Blueberry Hill Farm in Haughton, La., May 29. The children picked more than 25 pounds of berries to share with their family. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman La'Shanette V. Garrett)(RELEASED)

Children attending the Barksdale Youth Center summer camp attempt to catch a ball during recess on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., May 31. The camp offers a variety of activities such as science projects, arts and crafts, field trips, life skills and a reading program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman La'Shanette V. Garrett)(RELEASED)

Children attending the Barksdale Youth Center summer camp attempt to catch a ball during recess on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., May 31. The camp offers a variety of activities such as science projects, arts and crafts, field trips, life skills and a reading program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman La'Shanette V. Garrett)(RELEASED)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The Barksdale Youth Center annual summer camp kicked off with a luau as children visited "Barksdale Island" May 25.

The luau is one of many activities offered to the children attending the camp, which includes different educational activities such as science projects, arts and crafts, field trips, life skills and a reading program.

"We not only offer these programs to keep the children active, but to help keep them academically ready for the next school year, increase their large and fine motor skills and build their self esteem," said Cora Davis, School Age Development Center, director. "We don't do for them what they can do for themselves; we try to teach them life-experiences like taking care of themselves by eating healthy, being physically fit and exercising their minds. We cater to the whole child to make sure they are well rounded. A well rounded child makes a well rounded adult."

According to Davis, the Youth Center staff incorporates many different themes throughout the summer and is always looking for suggestions and ideas from parents and teachers. Some of the themes include a Hispanic Fiesta, a Taste of Cajun, a Hoe-Down and a Patriotic Program.

"Last year I came up with the idea to do a patriotic program for the parents," said Brenda Moye, School Age Program teacher. "I thought it would be interesting to show the parents in the military how proud we are of them. And, to teach the children what a great country we live in and always remember the sacrifices their parents have to make for our country. I didn't realize we would have such a big turnout."

This year's themes will be internationally focused, she added.

The camp is open to children of Department of Department civilians, active-duty members, base and DOD contractors, Army and Air Force Exchange Service employees, and reservists on active duty orders. Children must have graduated kindergarten and can't reach the age of 13 before the end of summer.

"The camp operates on the Bossier Parrish school calendar," said Davis. "We will operate through August 9. The following week will be for children going into kindergarten in the fall to allow them the opportunity to transition from the early childhood program to the school age development program."

Last year the camp averaged about 40 children a day, but Davis said growth of the base population, this year's average is about 60 with a total of 128 enrolled and a small waiting list.

Registration for camp is held during the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays, and spring break, Davis said.

"During the registration process, there is a non-refundable $10 per week registration fee which is deducted from the parent's fee for that week," she said. "The fee just guarantees a spot for their child for the week."

There are many other activities available at the youth center such as the youth employment skills program, and a teen and pre-teen program.

For more information on the summer camp and youth programs, contact the Barksdale Youth Center at 456-3448.