By Bonnie Culverhouse
It’s been 21 years since the efforts of Rep. Jean Doerge and Col. Carl Thompson brought the Youth Challenge Program to Camp Minden.
During that time, 6,182 have graduated the local program and 27,000 have graduated the three combined YCP groups in the state.
YCP Camp Minden’s executive director Starla Townsend told Minden Lions last week how this program “gives youth a second chance at life.”
“This program is for at-risk kids, but it is at no cost to them or their families,” Townsend said. “It is split 75 percent federal funding and 25 percent state.”
Troubled kids ages 16 to 18 attend. Most have been in trouble, but none are felons.
“Some of them come to us not knowing the basics of life,” Townsend said. “They had no parental guidance, so they didn’t know they were supposed brush their teeth every day and wear deodorant.”
The young men and women are taught anger management, how to budget, personal hygiene, life skills and academic excellence during the 22 week program.
Townsend, Major Logan Fileccia and Deputy Post Commander Capt. Quatiara Brewer brought four YCP cadets to the Lions Club meeting. The four young men told Lions of their experiences. Two of them said they intend to move forward with a Job Challenge Program. Townsend said the program is new and will teach cadets how to apply for and find jobs when they are ready to move on in their lives.
“We have a lot of good kids in YCP,” Townsend said.
(Webster Parish Journal published a three-part series by Marilyn Miller on the history of YCP and how it has progressed. To read about it, visit www.websterparishjournal.com and “search” for Youth Challenge Program.)