MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASES ALBANY, GA -- Local children ages 8-12 are learning about the military experience this week during the Drug Education For Youth Program weeklong camp at MCLB Albany. Camp instructors teach such basic military skills as first aid treatment and water survival skills.
The camp gives the children an opportunity to learn while having fun, said Albany Police officer Cpl Kinshishi Young, school resource officer for the Albany Police Department. The APD personnel and base officials worked together to ensure the DEFY program is successful.
"It's important for these children to have a good time while they are learning, said Young. "This will help them remember and make them more excited about learning and coming back the next day."
The camp is not all fun and games, however. DEFY counselors are also taking the opportunity to educate the children about the dangers of drugs, gangs and violence.
"I think what's nice about this program," said Capt. Angela B. Wissman, base defense counsel and military coordinator for the DEFY camp, "is that it emphasizes [the importance of] citizenship and morality core values as we would call them and ties them in with the drugs and the physical education [training].
The DEFY program targets moral character and physical fitness, similar to the Marine Corps' focus, said Wissman
Offering positive role models for the children to emulate is one of the methods camp counselors use to teach these core values, explained Wissman. One of the counselors, Denise Williams, was also a student of the DEFY Program a few years ago, and her appreciation for what she learned as a DEFY student helps her to teach this year's campers the lessons she learned.
According to Wissman, the program "... provides them with role models and a lot of education. We are going to give them classes on drug education, first aid, ethics and etiquette and citizenship."
Drug problems are relatively common in Albany because of its location, Wissman said.
"From what I'm seeing, it's kind of a main traffic point because it's between Florida and Atlanta just off of I-75," she said.
Apparently the children are getting the message.
"I don't take drugs," said 9-year-old camper Josh Flickinger. "The only type of drugs I take are good." He insisted would only take the 'good drugs,' not the "bad drugs like cigars and Marijuana."
Students said the camp showed them how self-destructive gangs and drugs truly are and said they wished more children were involved.
Lt. Gen. Gary S. McKissock will speak at the DEFY graduation ceremony Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Base Theater. Base personnel are invited.
"It's good for the Marine Corps to be involved," said Wissman. "We have a lot to offer our community. This shows us as giving back, and it's relatively easy."