This Week at Challenge, Week 2
They made it!! 145 Candidates completed Red Stage and became Cadets today. The pride in their accomplishment was written all over their faces. It was a long uphill battle, but they persevered, overcame and became Cadets – Class 53.
The first week of Red Stage ended with the company in high spirits. Of course the first week of Red Stage was very difficult and trying as the Candidates adjusted to a new place and a different routine. Even though a few of the Candidates have chosen to leave OYCP, the ones who remain are showing improvement and motivation to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.
During the first week, the Candidates met the teaching staff and learned about the school’s expectations. Along with spending time in class, each platoon learned various topics from their Cadre instructors. These ranged from: how to make a bunk, brush their teeth, Life Coping Skills classes, fitness, and wellness. The Candidates have done well in the classes, with a few incentive training sessions (push-ups) for Candidates who fall asleep or are talking during instruction.
Throughout this first week, all three platoons participated in Challenge Adventure. This program is run by the OYCP staff and each platoon participates for a day. Candidates do various team building exercises including jumping through hoops and untying a human knot. Challenge Adventure really helps the platoons to come together as a group to develop a more tightly knit community; this also allows the Candidates to get to know each other on a personal level.
Week two is always a long week for the Candidates. Lots of time was spent learning the rules of just about everything: boot shining, exercising, ironing, health and hygiene, and how to behave in class. The Candidates held up well under all the pressure, culminating in taking their handbook test. This was a test of their cadet handbook knowledge and must be passed in order to graduate Red Stage. This test can be challenging to some; however all the Candidates passed with flying colors.
Thursday, all the Candidates took the TABE test. This Test of Adult Basic Education is used by the program to gauge the math, reading and language levels of all the Cadets in order to give the program a starting point when they begin school. The test is a grueling event, consisting of 4 tests over 6 hours. Once graded, the results will be used to place the Cadets in the appropriate math and English classes. The Cadets will take this test again in May, giving the program an idea of how much they improved during their time at OYCP.
Red Stage graduation was a very touching affair. The Cadets looked great in their freshly ironed class A uniforms. For the first time in weeks there were smiles on their faces and a gleam in their eyes. Along with the ceremony, they also enjoyed a celebratory dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs, cooked and served by the OYCP staff. Special thanks go out to all the Cadet Mentors, all Class 52 cadets, who were crucial in helping the Candidates make it to graduation: Ray, O’Leary, Suarez, Castrejon, Davison and Aguilar.
With White Stage and school starting it is as important as ever that parents continue to support your sons and daughters with letters and e-mail. Remember, your Cadets can receive pictures, so please send some visual reminders to your kids; they love to show off their families to their platoons and staff. Although one really hard part is over, they still have four weeks until they go home for first break. Keep encouraging your Cadets to ensure they continue to grow and thrive at Youth Challenge.
Next week, school begins, jobs are assigned and the Cadets will find out if they know enough to be citizens when they take the US Citizenship test.