By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda L. Kilpatrick, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Naval Medical Center San Diego's (NMCSD) youth graduated from the 13th annual Drug Education for Youth (DEFY) phase one summer camp Aug. 5. DEFY helps educate youth about the dangers of drugs while developing important character and leadership skills through positive role modeling and community outreach.
NMCSD had 35 kids enrolled in DEFY and more than 20 active duty staff members volunteering as mentors and DEFY staff.
DEFY is designed for youth, ages nine to 12 and focuses on building self-esteem and setting goals, while providing kids with the tools they need to resist drugs, gangs and alcohol. The program centers on creating positive experiences so that kids will choose healthy alternatives instead of substance abuse and gang involvement.
"DEFY is one of the best programs on the market for drug and gang reduction," said Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Roderick Chase, DEFY camp operations director. "We provide a hands-on learning environment for our 'county's future' the kids."
DEFY helps maintain quality of life for military families to make periods of deployments easier for the family members who remain behind. The program also strengthens preventive factors in youth and families and reduces risk factors identified with substance abuse, gang involvement and crime.
The program has two phases, phase one begins in the summer and consists of a five-day or eight-day non-residential camp. Kids enjoy an entire camp experience with such activities as hiking and swimming while learning how to deal with conflicts and peer pressure. After the kids graduate from the phase one camp, they enter phase two which is a year of mentorship in youth organizations.
The kids meet on a monthly basis during the second phase of DEFY and enjoy activities such as hiking, kayaking, museum visits, community service such as cleaning the beach or volunteering at an animal shelter while mentors teach lessons based on specific curriculum for each month.
DEFY was initially developed in 1993 by the Navy's Drug Demand Reduction Task Force to fully integrate with the President's National Drug Control Strategy. The program is sponsored by local commands worldwide to help more than 89,972 Navy children. DEFY works to encourage and develop positive life skills in the Navy and Marine Corps' youth.