Some teens respond to the structure and discipline of a military regimen. Michigan's National Guard Youth Challenge Academy (NGYC) was established to combat drop-out rates, youth unemployment, drug-taking, crime and teen pregnancy. However, not all teenagers with problem behavior are suited to "boot camp," where there is little tolerance of defiance. Parents should be aware that some at-risk students may require more therapeutic residential options suited to their emotional, behavioral, oppositional or attention problems.
The residential military option for high school dropouts in Michigan is represented by the NGYC Academy at Battle Creek ( ngycp.org/site/state/mi/). Parents of troubled teens still within the school system might consider a short, sharp shock in weekend military camp. In Michigan this intervention is available from Midcourse Correction in Flint (midcoursecorrection.org). Older teenagers who are high school graduates interested in military careers have military college programs available to them (see Resources).
According to the NGYC, military-style teen intervention saves considerable costs that would otherwise be spent on juvenile correction. Teenagers often arrive as disillusioned drop-outs, but according to the NGYC they are given a second chance to discover they can achieve and leave the academy with life-direction and confidence. Seventy-five-percent of NGYC students leave with a high school diploma or GED. According to Joe Padilla of the National Guard Bureau, graduation from NGYC “puts right” the things that had previously gone wrong in that young person's life.
Michigan National Guard Challenge Academy
Established in 1999 as part of a national network of National Guard Academies, this is a program for at-risk 16- to 19-year-olds. The 17-month program is free of charge. However, NGYC does not accept students convicted of felonies or referred by the courts. Applicants are drug-tested. The program addresses academics, counseling, job skills and community service. There is also emphasis on leadership, citizenship and physical fitness. Students take vocational classes in either computers, health, food, technology, power equipment, collision repair or welding. On graduation they are given job placements.
Children too young for NGYC, or otherwise ineligible to attend, may benefit from short-term intervention camps. Troubled youths aged 11 to 17 may be referred to Midcourse Correction by parents, the court system or family services. Camp fees apply. Midcourse Correction aims to give at-risk children “a wake-up call.” In part this is done by screening footage of life inside juvenile detention and jail. Discussions stress that life is a series of choices, challenging students to take control and take responsibility. Students work in teams and participate in adventure activities. According to the program, graduates of this "challenge camp" say it changed their perspective, benefited their self-confidence and improved relationships with parents. Students who need ongoing mentoring may attend further camps as part of Honor Company. The four Honor Company Camps address Integrity, Charity, Self-control and Relationships.
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