Marine Corps Base Hawaii teaches youth drug abuse prevention
By Lance Cpl. Nathan Knapke
| Marine Corps Base Hawaii | July 26, 2013
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Drug Education for Youth
Lance Cpl. Nathan Knapke
Volunteers and children gathered at the field next to the Provost Marshal’s Office, July 23, 2013, to compete in an obstacle course during the two-week Drug Education For Youth program, July 11 through 24.
DEFY provides leadership and life skills training for children ages 9 through 12. Some of the skills include team building, conflict resolution, goal setting and self-confidence.
The program consists of four phases, which will cover a yearlong experience. Phase One kicks off the DEFY program with a summer camp that promotes a fun environment while learning essential life skills.
The children were finishing the summer camp portion of the DEFY program with fun exercises and trust building activities.
In the obstacle course, two participants paired up as a team and stood at the front of a slipping slide and waited for the signal to start the obsticle course. The team of two would jump face first onto a wet and soapy slipping slide. As the soapy water covered them they made it to the next station. This would be the cleanest they would be for the rest of the obstacle course.
The two team members were in a three-legged race with one of their ankles tied together and one of them blindfolded. The partner without the blindfold guided his or her teammate through the rest of the obstacles.
To make matters worse, volunteers threw water balloons, shot squirt guns, sprayed chocolate syrup, ketchup, mustard, whipped cream and silly string on the contestants to try and distract them.
The rest of the obstacle course consisted of getting all four legs into a hula hoop eight separate times, stepping over objects and balancing an egg on their heads all while tied together and one partner blindfolded.
“Being here is really fun because of all the cool activities,” said Kanyon Rice, 7, a participant in the competition. “My favorite part was getting messy and playing in the mud. I learned that we shouldn’t steal and don’t listen to people who are trying to make me do bad things.”
At the beginning of the competition, the competitors were told the fastest team would be allowed to throw a pie at any volunteer they wanted too. Instead, each team received a pie and had a free for all on the volunteers who had been teaching and mentoring them throughout the DEFY summer camp.
“How often are kids allowed to have a food fight,” said Lance Cpl. Jordan Ham, 21, a patrolman with PMO on base, and Amboy, Wash. native. “I love seeing the smiles on the kids faces and helping them make better decisions to keep them out of trouble.”
After every team completed the course and were done throwing pies, a volunteer sprayed everyone with a hose so they could clean themselves.
Although the camp has come to an end, the program continues to help the children with the next phase. DEFY’s Phase Two pairs a youth with an adult mentor for 10 months during the school year. They meet once a month to reinforce skills and techniques taught in Phase One. They attend workshops and participate in special activities such as community service and cultural events.
“The kids really learn to develop healthy relationships and understand how to make better decisions,” said Elizabeth Turner, camp coordinator. “This is a great program and I firmly believe that it truly helps kids who are involved.”