KSLA Salutes: COVID-19 impacts National Guard Youth Challenge Program

Classrooms like this one are empty at Camp Minden due to COVID-19. Officials had to send...
Classrooms like this one are empty at Camp Minden due to COVID-19. Officials had to send roughly 300 students home in March because of the virus.(Maranda Whittington)
Published: May. 15, 2020 at 8:45 AM CDT|Updated: May. 15, 2020 at 8:46 AM CDT
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MINDEN, La. (KSLA) - Camp Minden is usually filled with the sound of teens, but lately things have been pretty quiet.

Barracks, classrooms, and hallways are now empty, all thanks to the coronavirus.

“We didn’t know what COVID-19 was going to turn out to be so we immediately sent all of our cadets back to their homes,” said Captain Quatiara Goins.

Roughly 300 at risk teens come to Camp Minden and spend the next 22 weeks learning discipline, and leadership skills all while gaining an education under the National Guard Youth Challenge Program.

Captain Goins is the deputy director for the program, and says right now they aren’t sure when their students will be able to come back.

“We know that when we are allowed to bring them back we will be focusing on keeping safety as a priority,” she said.

The little staff that's still on site work to make sure they stay in constant contact with students and their families.

“At one point we were calling once a week,” said India Hunter. “So we were kind of concerned that maybe we were bugging them or it wasn’t being effective, but the parents really do appreciate it.”

Hunter is the lead counselor for the program, and says the students were only here for four weeks before they had to send them home in March.

“For me as a counselor it was hard to let them go because they were here for a reason," she said. "They really needed to be here. Some of them did not want to go home and they ask us every week when can we return so that’s the hardest part.”

While things are a little different now, staff here are hopeful their students will return here very soon.

Goins says how they’ll move forward in the next couple of months will all depend on the state’s guidelines and recommendations from the CDC.

They are still accepting students for their fall cycle. You can sign your child up for the program HERE, or call 1-800-CAMP-KID or 318-641-5803.

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