MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Every year, schools across the nation give children breaks during the winter and spring holidays. During these times, children and teenagers tend to sit back, relax and recover from school. Trips are planned but for others, the break may mean just sitting around the house doing nothing. This is where the Teen Squad steps in.
The Teen Squad is a Marine Corps Community Services program designed to take teenagers and students, who are in the seventh grade, out of their homes and let them interact and build friendships with others in their peer group.
“We have our meetings at the Teen Center behind La Casita Loca,” said Marla Talley, the director for Children, Youth and Teens programs with MCCS. “Parents can come here and sign their children up for a daily or weekly fee or just pay for two weeks of the program.”
The Teen Squad meets from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the teenagers are fed three meals and a snack and participate in activities that can range from swimming and video game competitions to trips to movie theaters and local bowling and arcade centers.
“We also bring in people who work with Semper Fit and Health Promotions to teach the teens about exercise, the effects of energy drinks and maintaining a healthy diet,” said Patrick Larkin, a youth activities director with Children, Youth and Teens programs. “We also talk to them about social topics of the day and let them make decisions on where trips should be planned to and any other projects they have in mind.”
Recently, the teenagers of the Teen Squad banded together and collected shoes for children in Haiti who were affected by the hurricane.
“It’s really a great program because it gives the teens a chance to get away from the stress of having deployed parents and any other issues they may be facing,” said Larkin. “The staff that works with the program were all hand-picked. They’re authority figures but friends as well, and they work with the teens to try and help them overcome any problems they may face.”
The daily fee for attending the program is $10, a week costs $40 and two weeks is $75. Transportation to and from events is free. The only money recommended would be spending money for anything the teenagers want to buy while on a trip.
For more information about the Camp Lejeune Teen Squad, visit www.mccslejeune.com/cytp.