Youth program available for local teens who want to make a difference

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 9, 2003

By JERRY LePRE-Managing Editor

Qualified teen-agers in the River Parishes area who want to make a difference with their lives are encouraged to apply for the Louisiana National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program (YCP).

This 17-month educational program, five months of which is residential, is open to 16 to 18 year-old males and females who are drug free and have no felony convictions.

The rigorous and demanding program, which is the ideal environment for teen-agers who want to build a successful future, is currently offered at three locations: Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Camp Minden near Minden, and the Gillis W. Long Center in Carville.

Recently, the United Services Organizations named Louisiana’s YCP the Best All-Around Program in the nation.

“To be named the top program in the nation is certainly a great accomplishment and we are proud to be recognized for all of the hard work our staff does at making this program top notch,” Brig. Gen. Richard E. Averitt, director of the Youth Challenge Programs, said.

Louisiana’s program received high marks in each of the eight core components that make up the Youth Challenge Program core curriculum. These components are life coping skills; educational excellence; skills and training; responsible citizenship; leadership/followership; health, hygiene and sex education; physical fitness; and community involvement projects.

YCP has been in existence in Louisiana since opening its doors at Camp Beauregard in 1993 as a pilot program. In 1997, it was granted permanent status.

Most recently, Louisiana Youth Challenge Program marked another milestone in becoming the first state to operate three Youth Challenge Programs. In July, Governor Mike Foster, the State Legislature, and The Congressional Delegation secured the necessary funds to start the third program at the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant in Webster Parish. The first class began in January at this site.

Additional sites are being considered including those that would be more accessible to River Parishes applicants. However, the program is open to Louisiana residents of all parishes including the St. John the Baptist, St. Charles and St. James Parishes.

YCP students are provided uniforms, lodging, meals and a small weekly allowance.

While enrolled at YCP, students work toward earning a high school equivalent diploma.

The core curriculum are stressed throughout the program to encourage personal growth and development. Applications are currently being accepted for the upcoming class. Please call 1-800-CAMP-KID (1-800-226-7543) for more information.