Military feature: Publication details tween, teen activities

By Liliana Castillo

A project started by a spouse at Cannon Air Force base bloomed into an annual publication called the Youth Activities Guide.

The publication includes three months of activities happening at Cannon for tweens and teens.

“This really is a homegrown program,” Maj. Mae-Li Allison of Public Affairs said. “A spouse recognized the need a couple of years ago and stepped up to the plate. Now it’s sponsored by the base.”

Force Support Squadron Marketing Director Yolanda Romero called it a one-stop shop for parents.

“We have a lot of families who move to Cannon and we can let them know what activities are available for their kids,” said Airman and Family Service Flight Chief Denise Van Derwarker. “It’s a good marketing tool for us.”

Romero said her department thought the listing was a great idea and made sure it continued.

“We love to have all this information in one place,” she said.

The process starts in late February for the guide to be published in May.

“This is the year of the Air Force Family and our goal is to promote that to everyone and FitFactor is a big thing,” Romero said. “This is a way of getting all this information to our families.”

Van Derwarker said remaining active was a focus, but in planning events, different departments focused on ensuring a variety.

“We want to hit all kids. Some like to read, why not entice them too,” Van Derwarker said.

The guide has listings ranging from new ones such as Camp Invention, which incorporates math and science in a fun setting, and certain sports clinics to tried and true listings such as bowling, cooking, arts and crafts and leadership clubs.

Jennifer Baldwin, program assistant for Cannon Youth Programs, said parents enjoy the variety of options for the children.

“We get a lot of parents who are excited about the things their kids are doing in the program. They want to know more about what they’re doing and how they can incorporate them at home too,” Baldwin said.

Van Derwarker said as summer begins, parents are always looking for something to keep their children busy.

“They’re looking for things to keep them enriched, keep them active and keep them entertained too,” she said.

As a parent, Baldwin said she is glad her 6-year-old daughter, Jasmine, has options.

“I love the fact that she has so many opportunities and she can make choices,” she said.

Baldwin said her daughter spends 10 hours a day at the youth center with her at work, but doesn’t mind because there is always something for her to do.

The guide is free and available at various locations on base. It can also be accessed at cannonforce.com