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THE POST-SIGNAL / Desiray Seaux
Courtney Alston, left, of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program was the guest speaker at the reent meeting of the Rotary Club of Crowley. Judge M’elise Trahan, right, gave a vocational speech.

Rotarians learn about National Guard YCP

‘Changing America, one youth at a time’

The Crowley Rotary Club last week welcomed guest speaker Courtney Alston of the National Guard Youth Challenge (YCP) Program, who presented a program on alternative educational program for 16-18 year old Louisiana youth.
The program offers an opportunity to change the students’ future for those that have difficulty succeeding in a traditional school setting.
During the 17-month course, students learn self-discipline, leadership, and responsibility while pursing studies to obtain a high school equivalency diploma.
The YCP program includes a five-month residential phase. After graduation from the program, the students enter the second phase, a 12-month post-residential phase during which the student returns home.
During the residential phase students may live on site at Camp Minden near Shereveport, Camp Beauregard in Central Louisiana or the Gillis W. Long Center near Baton Rouge. While living on site the students are constantly supervised, attend school and receive counseling.
An overview of the first phase includes:
• Cadets live in military style barracks (supervised 24/7)
• Limited phone calls: one time per week
• Write and receive letter in mail
• No distractions (males and females separated and technology only used in classroom).
A typical day for cadets includes a 5:30 a.m. wake up call; reveille at 6:15 a.m.; breakfast, medical call, clean barracks, personal hygiene, in rank inspections and laundry turn-in; formation for class 7:55 a.m.; and class from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. with lunch break.
After school the cadets participate in physical Training (PT) and intramural sports; retreat and honors to the flag at 5 p.m., followed by evening meal; guest speakers, letter-writing, additional classes and personal hygiene 9 a.m.
Before graduation the cadets are awarded one family day; one home pass; field trips and outings, career exploration activities, academic testing, and prom. The cadets also must participate in 40 hours of community involvement projects.
During the second phase of the program students are assisted in positive direction with case managers and community mentors.
The students are guided to continue to succeed by enrolling in college, beginning job training, enlisting in the military or finding employment.
The YCP is completely free to all students. The tuition-free program provides students with all uniforms, meals, educational and housing cost.
Funding for the program is derived 75 percent by Department of Defense and 25 percent by the State of Louisiana.
The mission of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program is to intervene and reclaim the lives of 16- to 18-year-olds “at risk” youths, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens.
In order to be excepted into the program a prospective student must apply, be interviewed and then accepted.
Eligibility requirements include Louisiana residency, 16 to 18 years of age on first day of program, willing to become drug free, willing participant (volunteer/family decision) and not convicted of an adult felony.
The eight core concepts of YCP include: life coping skills; academic excellence; job skills training; responsible citizenship; leadership/followship; health, hygiene and sex education; physical fitness ;and community involvement projects.
YCP begins new classes every two months.
Anyone interested in enrolling a student should call 1-800-CAMP-KID to begin the enrollment process.

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