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TEEN CENTER MINI BOOT CAMP

There’s no better feeling than being fatigued in your Army fatigues.

At least that’s the philosophy of Army Staff Sgt. Stephen Smithers.

The local US Army recruiter, Smithers comes to the Staunton-Augusta Family YMCA on Thursdays, and does a boot camp-style fitness class for the teens. YMCA Teen Center supervisor Eddie Santiago was looking for more ways to keep the Teen Center kids more fit and active.

Smithers approached the YMCA about finding a place to train future Army enlistees once the weather cooled.

A partnership was formed.

“I wanted to have a boot camp class for kids, because I really liked the fact that they had a boot camp class for adults,” Santiago said. “We want to keep them in shape, and to show them some of what the Army goes through for training. Then it turned into something really fun. I thought the kids weren’t going to like it, but the kids are having a blast.”

Smithers agrees.

“We’ve been trying to find ways to reach out to the community, and this opportunity presented itself,” Smithers said. “We get to train our people here, but we also get to spend time with the Y kids and keep them entertained and gets them to work out at least a little bit. It’s dually beneficial.”

A surprising number of kids have participated in the optional program.

“When I first came in, I didn’t expect that many kids to show up,” said Smithers, who has seen a lot of middle school student participation. “I was actually kind of impressed. The last couple of times we are starting to get a couple of the older kids to break the silence and come over. That’s been cool. Hopefully, that continues.”

Amiyah is one of the middle school students who participates.

“It gets us off the (video game) consoles,” Amiyah said.

Levi, another middle school student, doesn’t want to miss out on the fun.

“I do it, because my friends do it,” he said.

And while Smithers can teach the kids a few things, the teens quite enjoy teaching the sergeant a thing or two about the game of basketball.

“The dodgeball today wasn’t bad, but two weeks ago we played a bit of basketball,” Smithers said. “I’m not as spry and fast as I think I am, and they were very quick to show me.”

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