MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- Three teenagers from the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Youth/Teen/Activity Center participated in the Marine Corps-wide Virtual Teen Summit July 17.
The summit connected children from around the Marine Corps via video teleconferencing, which allows them to see and talk to each other.
This year's theme for the summit focused on each youth center's best Boys and Girls Club of America practices. Throughout the Marine Corps, bases have Youth and Teen Centers that are open for military and civilian employees' children ages 9-18. The Boys and Girls Club assists Marine Corps bases with the programs and curriculum teen centers should provide.
"This year each command had to provide information on their best boys and girls club practices," said Paula Caserio, family childcare youth/teen director. "They [Headquarters Marine Corps officials] wanted to see what we have been doing out here in the field and which programs the teens enjoy the most."
As directed by Headquarters Marine Corps, teenagers made creative presentations about their favorite Teen Supreme activities. The base's teens who gave the best presentation won $5,000 to be used to purchase supplies for their youth and teen center.
For the Albany teens, their favorite program was Teen Supreme, Caserio said. The Teen Supreme Program is for ages 13-18 and focuses on activities in six areas; service to club and community; leadership development; education and career exploration; unity; and free enterprise and social recreation.
Fifteen-year old Chad Miller was selected by his peers and Caserio to give the presentation because he has logged the most volunteer hours and worked at the teen center the most. Through his efforts he proved to Caserio and his peers that he is a leader and should head up this project. It was a joint effort, however, that Miller's slideshow. The pictures and quotes used were incorporated from teenagers at the center and Caserio helped Miller make the slide show.
The slide show explained what the teens learned and gained from the Teen Supreme Program. It also highlighted some of the community service activities they volunteered for, such as collecting food and blankets for the Terrell County Humane Society and collecting needed food and clothing for local tornado victims and their families. They also served food to the homeless and assisted packing and distributing family meals for the Albany Food Bank.
"Our community service projects help me and other members appreciate first hand how important it is to volunteer and how our efforts help needy families and our community," said Miller.
The competition was tough, in fact the Albany teens thought they were going to lose for sure when they heard one group rap about their teen center. The teens may have liked the rap and thought it was creative and neat, but the judges must have thought otherwise.
The Albany teens' Power Point slide show presentation was a hit. They took first place and were awarded $5,000 for their teen center.
Caserio said she will finally be able to purchase an air hockey table the teens have been bugging her about.
"For me personally it's not important that we won a cash prize, but that our positive teenagers get recognition, because often times negative attention gets put on our teens," Caserio said. "We are doing a lot of awesome things down there [at the youth and teen center] but sometimes that gets over looked."
Last year was the first time the summit was televised and a couple kinks in the system prevented Albany teens from sending messages. But thanks to Gunnery Sgt. Donald W. Feazell, education services officer here, who set up the VTC equipment and made sure it worked properly, the teens were able to watch and communicate with teens from other Marine bases.
"They enjoyed getting to see kids from the other commands," Caserio said, "and they got to see they were doing some of the same things we were doing. They also got to ask questions about what they did at their facility. The kids really had a good time."