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Massachusetts National Guard Youth Program 
 
Massachusetts National Guard Youth Program 
By Susan Pixley, State Youth Coordinator 

 WELLESLEY, Mass. - Meeting new friends who have the Guard in common; learning all about your service member’s unit; having fun with other Guard kids; building leadership skills; learning about deployment; having support when a person you love is deployed; appreciating your military family; these are all things that the Massachusetts National Guard Youth Program can offer, plus more.

The Massachusetts Guard Youth Program offers many educational and social opportunities for children and teens, such as: Operation Youth Deployment; Gear Up; Operation Military Kids; and Speak Out for Military Kids. Our state program also provides information and referral services on a variety of issues concerning Guard Youth.

Operation Youth Deployment is a fun-filled “call-up to active duty day” where children whose parents are preparing to deploy experience events designed to simulate what their Soldier encountered during soldier readiness processing prior to deployment. Sponsored by the state youth coordinator and supported by the unit youth volunteer and the unit’s rear detachment, stations are provided for children to experience everything from camouflage to survival tactics. Teens are encouraged to participate and expand their leadership experience by supporting many of the OYD stations which present information on topics such as physical fitness and health values and the American Flag. The kids can also write letters to their loved ones.

Gear UP and Gear UP Jr. are programs designed to help Guard Youth build leadership skills in a fun and interactive way. Have you ever wanted to be a leader? Have you ever thought of what kind of leader you may be? As you meet new friends, experience challenges, work as a team, laugh and enjoy yourself - you will find the answer to those questions and more.

The National Guard Youth Program partners with Operation Military Kids, a National Program which interacts with local communities to support military children. OMK is instrumental in supporting our unit family readiness group youth by sponsoring field trips, parties and activities. They join with our state coordinator and youth volunteers at many Guard events such as Gear Up training, summer camps and pre- and post-deployment briefings. Their latest initiative, a Mobile Technology Lab (MTL), has been extensively used by our Guard Youth. The MTL consists of multiple laptops and a digital and video camera. The technology lab is transported to youth events and used to create greeting cards as well as to record messages for deployed loved ones. It is indeed a “high tech” experience for our Guard Youth.

Speak Out for Military Kids is a program designed for military and non-military teens to talk about what it is like to be a “military kid.” SOMK is often produced at a public television studio where Guard Youth experience television fame and learn the “ins and outs” of film production. This is their opportunity to reach out to non-military youth and express their feelings and educate their peers about military life.  

The State Youth Program values the importance of our youngest generation and understands that today’s Guard Youth are facing unique challenges. If you would like to learn more about the Guard Youth Program, please call 888-301-3103 ext 7290.

2/3/2009