DEFY spends a week at MacDill
by Jeroline A. Horne
After months of inter-agency coordination and preparation the Drug Education for Youth Summer Leadership Camp was held here over the summer.
DEFY is an inter-active camp that encompasses an array of programs and activities for youth ages 9 to 12. Because of prevalent drug use even at the elementary school level, it is imperative that drug education, conflict resolution, choices and consequences be taught during the summer camp. However, the youth have plenty of fun going swimming and performing team building activities too.
This year's camp was a bit different because a team of 16 youth from MacDill participated in the camp. In the seven-year history of the program only off-base youth were allowed to join the fun from June 13 to 17.
The five-day residential camp began with an early morning pre-camp survey where all 47 youth met at the base Youth Center. They received a McDonald's breakfast, personal hygiene kits, their DEFY shirts and an orientation for the week's scheduled activities.
The first day also included a nutritional class, team photos and a trip to Tropicana Field to see the Devil Rays take on the Milwaukee Brewers. The youth went to the Tampa Police Academy where they participated in a simulated car chase and tug of war.
On media day, June 16, the youth spent the entire afternoon at the MacDill beach. The activities included Humvee rides provided by JCSE, EOD demonstrations, playing volleyball, fire truck display and being hosed down by MacDill's fire department.
The DEFY program is an outreach activity that falls under the Drug Demand Reduction Program and is intended to reduce the risk of drug abuse among school age children. This year's camp had a total of 47 youth and 57 mentors/staff. In addition to the youth, MacDill had a total of 22 mentors.
The agencies that co-sponsored the camp were the Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, and several MacDill squadrons. The 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 6th Communication Squadron, 6th Services Squadron, 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and many other individuals made this year's camp a wonderful success.