Youth Challenge Program celebrates family day

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More than 200 Louisiana Army National Guard Youth Challenge Program cadets participated in family day Saturday.

The formal pass in review ceremony is a timeless military tradition and is usually conducted by professional soldiers during a change of command. However, during family day, YCP cadets organized, managed and led the ceremony without any assistance from staff members. The ceremony took place at the field in front of the main building. It demonstrated the skills and discipline the cadets learned while enrolled in the program.

At the completion of the ceremony, cadets were allowed to spend time with their families on the field behind the assembly hall. More than 2,000 family members and friends attended to see their cadet graduate.

“The cadets have worked very hard, and have done an incredible job preparing for the pass in review ceremony,” CPT. Jason Montgomery, director of YCP at Camp Minden said before the ceremony Saturday. “We are very proud of what each cadet has accomplished during the past 11 weeks. As graduation nears, they are closer to that finish line, but their journey is not complete yet. We look forward to an exciting family day.”

The mission of the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16-18 year old adolescents, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education and self-discipline necessary in order to succeed as productive citizens.

The Youth Challenge Program offers young people an opportunity to improve their lives through participation in an innovative, alternative school and is administered to participants at no cost. All needs, such as meals, bedding, classroom instruction, and uniforms are provided free of charge.

This award-winning program has been recognized as one of the nation’s most effective and cost efficient programs for targeting at-risk youth.

Since 1994, more than 100,000 cadets have graduated nationwide with more than 19,100 from Louisiana. Typically, Louisiana graduates approximately 1,400 teens a year from three locations: Camp Beauregard near Alexandria, Camp Minden and The Gillis W. Long Center near Baton Rouge. More than 80 percent of teens that graduate this two-phase program go on to further their education, join the workforce or enlist into the military.

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