MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
With a shrug of the shoulders and an inquisitive look in their eyes, most children usually answer the age-old question by saying the first and most exciting thing that pops into their minds.
Policeman! Doctor! Astronaut! Movie star! Just as long as it appears prestigious, fun or glamorous.
MCLB Albany, along with several area businesses, decided to take a different approach to get children to think about the future. Instead of telling children about different vocational options, they showed them.
Whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not, many base employees welcomed shadows of their own Jan. 29, 31 and Feb. 2 when eighth graders from local schools participated in the Groundhog Day Job Shadow Program.
According to Capt. Nicole L. Reynolds, base operations officer and Lewistown Pa., native, the program is a nationwide effort to inspire and motivate children toward the possibilities of future careers.
?I think it is nice for us to learn something before we get out of school, and start college and learn more about it," said Shuntesa Cross, an eighth-grade student of Merry Acres Middle School and Albany, Ga., native, who visited the clinic.
Cross said she wanted to be a pediatrician, and the visit to the clinic taught her several invaluable lessons. Now she wants to be a pediatrician more than ever.
Children participating in the event were given the opportunity to select what they wanted to do, and then were assigned to a job that best fit their requests.
"Even if just a few of these students have seen something that interests them, the program is a success," said Reynolds.
"We're not going to reach all of them, and all of them are not going to be interested in what we do."
?But I think throughout this week, each one of these kids saw something that made them say ?I might want to do that? and that is important -- to give a child direction -- a goal,? she continued.
Reynolds said that this year?s program ran much smoother than last year?s for several reasons.
Last year, she explained, the program lasted only one day, on Feb. 2, Ñ Groundhog Day.
Because it was so difficult managing more than 200 children in a small space and in such a short period of time, the program was extended to an entire week this year.
Though the Child Development Center was the only area on base that hosted students all five days, the added time made things run more smoothly, and the smaller groups of students were able to learn more, she said.
?All the people were really excited about being involved, which I think had a big impact on the success of the program,? said Reynolds.
?This is a huge undertaking for the Dougherty County School System,? she said.
?We?re just a very small player in it. But with the great range of careers located on base, we?re a great resource for them,? Reynolds added.
Among the many places the students visited were the Maintenance Center, the Band and the Provost Marshal?s Office.
In the Base Legal Office, De-Sean Paul got a ?behind-the-scenes look? at how the law works.
Capt. Darren C. Wolff, base legal defense counsel, spent his time showing Paul a little about military law and procedure, and trying to give him a feel for not just the Marine Corps, but the legal field in general.
At one time, Paul wanted to be a doctor, but now he wants to be a lawyer, and the job shadow program has helped learn more about his newly chosen career field.
Reynolds said she was astonished at how great the response was when she asked for volunteers from both Marines and civilians.
Each day the event was held on base, more than 35 students attended, with the option of shadowing in more than 16 places.
Reynolds also said that without the help of the Marines at S-6, the program would have been almost impossible to run on base.
?Without their help,? she said, ?this would have gotten nowhere.? Volunteering to help others is something that every Marine should take part in, Reynolds added.
?I encourage Marines who have the time, to get involved in the community. It?s an important thing to do.
?Some Marines who think life here in Albany is boring, that there is nothing to do and are not really happy with being stationed here -- I suggest that they go out and get involved in as many programs as there are available to them,? Reynolds continued.
?The opportunities for rewards are much greater than anything you give,? Reynolds explained.
?For all the reasons that you can?t even put your hands on, it?s important for us, as Marines, to be involved in the community.
?How do you feel after you do something for a group of children? Can you even describe the feeling you get? I can?t.
?We have the time, the capability and we have opportunity. We should take advantage of it.?
For more information about opportunities to volunteer in the local community, call at 639-7167.