Teens Wild About 2009 ANG Summit

  • Published
  • By MSGT Vincent De Groot
  • 185th ARW Public Affairs
Jekyll Island, Georgia is a long way from the rolling plains of Mid-West. For several Siouxland teens it seems a world away. Jessica Mars an eleventh grader at Maurice Orange City-Floyd Valley School in Orange City, Iowa, said, "I have never been to the ocean before, when I first saw it I ran straight to it." Mars and several other area youths were in Georgia for a week of learning and fun as part of the 2009 Air National Guard and Reserve Teen Leadership Summit held July 13th thru July 27th at Wahsega 4-H Center near Dahlonega, Georgia and Jekyll Island, Georgia.

Seeing things like Sea Turtles and Dolphins up close and in the wild is something many teenagers from the Mid-West only dream about, but that was just part of the adventure. The Jekyll Island 4-H Center boast nearly 13,000 visitors each year, facilitating outdoor adventure and using hands-on techniques to teach youths about conservation. One of the many subjects offered by the Leadership Summit was beach ecology. Here, Mars discovered detritus in the marshy area near the South Georgia beach. "You can actually put it on your face," said Mars. "First we put it on a football, it's a super organic exfoliate, then we put it all over our face, (later) we washed it off and our skin was so smooth. It was really cool."

The Air National Guard and Reserve first held this event a year ago. Returning for a second time, Darin Davlin, son of Senior Master Sergeant Bill Davlin, shared sentiments with Mars. On one evening, the youths were treated to a concert by the Air Force Band "Max Impact." Davlin said, "They had very good music, I was surprised."

With 135 teens from over 41 states in attendance, there were plenty of new friends to be made and relationships fostered. "I can't even describe the bond we made just in five days," said Mars.

Mars, Davlin and others from the tri-state area of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota took part in the summit designed to educate dependants on programs and benefits available to them as dependants of Air National Guard members. Because Jessica and Darin both have a parents who are members of the Air National Guard in Sioux City, Iowa, they were eligible to go on the week long excursion. One of the prerequisites for those who attended was to write two short essays about their experiences as military kids. Davlin said, "It was a little tougher this year, there were some kids from last year who applied and didn't get to go this time."

The Iowa teens were first flown from Sioux City, Iowa to Jacksonville, Florida then stayed at the 4-H camp at Jekyll Island for the week. The program, funded by the Air Force Reserve the Air National Guard, is in partnership with the 4-H camps which made the facilities available. The biggest bonus for all the teens involved is that the event, airfare meals and lodging are all free of charge because of their military affiliation.

Mars described other experiences like raising and lowering the flag each day, visiting Cumberland Island National Park and seeing wild horses. She added she was very thankful for being in a safe setting were military kids can get together.

After high school, Mars plans to attend college and added that this experience made her think about going into the guard or attending Reserve Officer Training. "I want everyone to experience this; it's a great experience to get away... It was super hands on." Mars said.

Davlin, a 2009 graduate of Homer High in Homer Nebraska has already joined the Nebraska Air National Guard's 155th Air Refueling Wing in Lincoln where he works as a Knowledge Manager. He has already completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and plans to attend the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in the fall.

Teen Summit organizers are planning events for next year. Dependents of 185th ARW or the 133rd TS service men or women who are interested in attending next years summit can contact the Family Readiness Group Coordinator, Lori Risdal, at 712-585-0817

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