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Summer fun at the youth center

By Senior Airman La'Shanette V. Garrett 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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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.