|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.
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
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
“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
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
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
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
(Submitted by the Fort McCoy CYS Services program.)