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 November 12, 2010

Community

Teen lock-in at McCoy focuses on fun,
real-world events

Teens in the Fort McCoy Child, Youth & School (CYS) Services program attended a 15-hour overnight lock-in at the installation from Oct. 22-23, which focused on activities supporting the CHARACTER COUNTS! and Healthy Habits programs.
PHOTO: Teens in the Fort McCoy Child, Youth & School Services program pose for a group photo after a rousing game of ghost in the graveyard. The teens enjoyed a number of activities during their 15-hour lock-in. Photo by Child, Youth & School Services staff
Teens in the Fort McCoy Child, Youth & School Services program pose for a group photo after a rousing game of ghost in the graveyard. The teens enjoyed a number of activities during their 15-hour lock-in. (Photo by Child, Youth & School Services staff)

A CYS Services staff member and two youth began preparing for the lock-in by attending the Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) for the Installation Management Command Northeast Region in July. Youth focused on CHARACTER COUNTS!, service learning, social recreation, and the Teen Issues Forum where they get to bring their ideas of how to make Army Teen Programs better for teens worldwide.

The Fort McCoy activities were designed to connect youth with events going on in the real world, practice healthy habits and to make trustworthy choices in their lives, said Cori Yahnke, CYS Services School Age Services director.

Youth started the night of activities with a game of laser tag. Following a snack, they went to the Rumpel Fitness center, where they participated in basketball games and a volleyball match. Other youths chose to exercise on mats or with exercise balls. The youth had good, healthy fun at the fitness center for about two hours, said Dyan Zepeda, a Child and Youth Program assistant.

After returning, CYS Services youth who attended the YLF began to set up teach-back activities.

“This gave our teen youth the opportunity to teach our teens what they had learned at the Youth Leadership Forum,” Zepeda said. “Our youth were divided into three groups. Each group had a chance to participate in an activity.”

The first activity taught about the effects of oil spills on a body of water. Youth were able to create an “area of land,” and try to clean up their land after an oil spill occurred.

Youth definitely were surprised at how difficult it was to get oil off of their lands and animals. Zepeda said when youth read about this it often doesn’t sink in. But being able to see and experience the effects of the experiment helps the youth understand the impact and what they can do to protect the environment.

The second activity used balloons to represent daily-life activities. Youth sat on the floor and had to keep several balloons up in the air. The addition of colored balloons, which represented challenges they might face in their lives, made the event even more challenging. One balloon represented drugs, another peer pressure and so on. Yahnke said this event supported the CHARACTER COUNTS! concept and taught them to be responsible and make trustworthy choices in life.

The third activity, led by Zepeda, taught youth the effects of stress on their bodies and strategies to overcome stress. This activity related to healthy habits and also to the Red Ribbon Week, which highlighted the improper use of alcohol and drugs can cause them to lose control of their lives. Red Ribbon Week was observed from Oct. 23-31 in the Fort McCoy community.

Youth also learned several strategies to combat stress and take control of their lives, such as starting and maintaining a daily journal. Other strategies included using a stress ball, yelling into a pillow, or talking to friends, adults, or school counselors.

After the teach-back activities, the teens watched movies, and played games and socialized with their friends. At 1 a.m., a cooking club was under way.

The teens created an authentic Latino meal of chalupas and tacos, and learned how to make homemade salsa. Around 2 a.m., youth played a game of ghost in the “graveyard,” and then around 3 a.m. went for their second round of movies and games.

From 3-5 a.m., those who had not fallen asleep from sheer exhaustion participated in karaoke. By 5 a.m. all teens had fallen asleep. Zepeda said it was a great night for all 29 teens and CYS Services staff involved in the event.

“We are all looking forward to our next lock-in in the spring,” Zepeda said.

(Submitted by the Fort McCoy CYS Services program.)

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