Military children and teens across the country demonstrate each day how resilient and talented they are. The Army National Guard Child & Youth Services Program has dedicated this page to highlighting the amazing accomplishments of our ARNG CYS teens. #GuardTeens
The idea for this project came from one of the youths in the program. The youth saw an opportunity on Facebook and reached out the CYPC team, who then reached out to the point of contact. After a few emails they settled on a date and time for the project.
The group helped remove many trees that had been killed by spruce beetles. The beetle lives under the bark of trees, and the adult beetles emerge in the spring and bore through the bark of a new host tree. Female beetles excavate galleries in which they lay eggs. The newly hatched larvae create feeding tunnels at right angles to the larger egg galleries, where they complete their one or two year life cycle. If numerous beetles attack the tree, the resulting brood can girdle and kill the tree. (For more information on spruce beetles, click here)
The group started the day with a safety brief, and waited for a chainsaw crew to cut down about 15 trees, and to cut the limbs off of them so they could be carried easily. One group of teens put the downed trees into a truck that was headed to the dump, and a second group cut the grass and raked the yard of the facility. There were a total of five youth volunteers who helped with this project. This is another great example of a teen led project. Way to go Team Alaska!
Thank you, Alaska State Teen Panel, and the Child and Youth Services Team, for all of your hard work to help your community!
Pictured: Members of the AK National Guard State Teen Panel who participated in the community service event
This story comes from the great state of North Dakota, and highlights a service project their Teen Panel participated in during the summer of 2020.
North Dakota National Guard (NDNG) Child and Youth Services and the NDNG Teen Panel wanted to give military kids something back, since they had to cancel all in-person events/camps since March. So they came up with Camp Homefront 2020.
Camp Homefront is a four-day camp in a box. The Teen Panel was put to the challenge and had to come up with things that youth would like to have in the boxes. For each day, there would be a STEM activity, art and crafts, outdoor activities, and also a daily fitness challenge. Some of the things they wanted to see were, bird house builds, slime kits, string art, and Hunt the Good Stuff Journals. There were many different fun projects in each box along with the educational content.
Ten of the NDNG Teen Panel members came in on July 13th, to help assemble all 100 boxes. They presented the Camp Homefront daily activities to North Dakota National Guard Leadership. The teens also recorded videos helping military kids with the different crafts and activities in each box. The videos were posted on the North Dakota National Guard Facebook Page, so children could view it at any time they may have a question or need help. The Teen Panel was also involved in conducting games and activities virtually when the camp took place 10-13 August. They helped select different virtual games, activities, camp songs, and even planned a talent show, so the kids can still connect, if not in person, then virtually.
Thank you to Mandy Malo, Trudy Hjelseth, and the ND Teen council for all of your hard work.
Pictured: Members of the NDNG Teen Panel, taken while packing-up camp in-a-box materials for youth
The following story comes from the great state of Kansas, and highlights a project that a former Teen Council member did in 2018.
Jessica Vanstory served on the Kansas State Teen Council during her time in High School. Jessica came up with the deployment kit idea after going through multiple deployments with her own family. She wanted to combine many of the most effective coping mechanisms and put them into a kit. The kit contained stationary for writing letters, a calendar with stickers to count down the days until the family member came home, and a jar of Hershey’s kisses so that the child could have a kiss from the family member each day.
The kits went to 150 children at Amanda Arnold Elementary School in Manhattan KS, which is a few miles away from the Army base Fort Riley. Jessica wanted to support military families, and saw this as a fun way to give back.
Jessica is currently a Music Education major at Kansas State University, and plays in the Marching band and the Wind Ensemble.
This is another great example of a National Guard Teen stepping up and helping her community.
You can view the media coverage this project received by clicking here.
Pictured: Jessica Vanstory with completed deployment kits ready for distribution
Bethany Chacon, a teen who has served on the NM Army National Guard Teen Panel participated in the Boys and Girls Club Military Youth of the Year competition this past spring. She won the state competition and will compete in the Southwest Regional Military Youth of the Year competition in the fall. She was able to participate in this competition because of a partnership between the NM ARNG Youth Program and Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque NM.
Bethany has been a part of the Youth Center on the base since 3rd grade. During Middle and High School she got involved in many of the Boys and Girls Club programs that they offered. As she progressed through the program Bethany started taking on more leadership and mentoring roles. She served as a Teen Volunteer for two years where she helped set up recreation activities for the younger children. This past year was Bethany’s last year in High School and she decided to participate in the Youth of the Year competition.
This year’s competition had some different challenges than past year’s competitions. Bethany still had to write the essays, get the letters of recommendation, give a three minute speech, and submit her transcripts as required for the process. The speech was given over video, and the interview portion of the competition was done over video call. Despite these challenges Bethany rose to the occasion, and became the NM Military Youth of the Year. She received a $2,500 college scholarship for winning this competition. If she wins the regional competition she will receive an additional $20,000 scholarship and will have the chance to become the National Military Youth of the Year where she can earn even more scholarship money.
Bethany is just one great example of the youth who are a part of our programs. Thank you to the NM team who helped mentor and guide her along her journey.
Pictured: Bethany Chacon pictured with NM Lead Child & Youth Program Coordinator, Eric Ponce
If you would like to recognize a teen in your program, please reach out to Chris Hopkins (ARNG CYS Child & Youth Program Analyst) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Help us as we continue highlighting the awesome achievements of our military youth.