☷Club Beyond offers Fort Drum teens a place to belong
U.S. Army ( By Press Release office)
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Fort Drum teens engage in a Nerf battle at the Po Valley Chapel during a Club Beyond outing . The program has been introduced at military installations worldwide since 1980 and was launched at Fort Drum earlier this year . Club Beyond is a non - profit , non - federal ecumenical outreach program that offers activities and special events , service projects and summer camp opportunities for sixth - to 12th - grade teenagers . ( Courtesy Photo ) Fort Drum teens have fun at the bowling center during a Club Beyond outing . The program has been introduced at military installations worldwide since 1980 and was launched at Fort Drum earlier this year . Club Beyond is a non - profit , non - federal ecumenical outreach program that offers activities and special events , service projects and summer camp opportunities for sixth - to 12th - grade teenagers . ( Courtesy Photo ) FORT DRUM , N . Y . ( May 3 , 2022 ) - - A new club is taking root at Fort Drum where military teens can be themselves , make friends and have a fun , safe environment where they know they belong . It is called Club Beyond , a non - profit , non - federal ecumenical outreach program that offers activities and special events , service projects and summer camp opportunities for sixth - to 12th - grade teenagers . Jen Brace , Club Beyond community director at Fort Drum , said that the program helps to foster a sense of belonging among teens and provides them with mentorship from an adult support team and volunteers . “That moment when a teen reaches out to one of us and says ‘Hey , I need to talk with you’ – that’s what we want , ” she said . “We want them to know there is always someone they can talk to when they are having a hard time . That’s what we are really about . We can have these events that teens can come to and have fun , but we want to go further than that . ” The Fort Drum chapter recently celebrated their first big event on April 2 , with a “Neon Nerf” war at Po Valley Chapel . “The idea was to have these squad wars with Nerf guns , with all of the lights off except for a bunch of neon glow sticks , ” Brace said . “There were all these bunkers and things to make them feel like they were in a video game , and the kids ended up loving it . I had no idea they would enjoy playing Nerf as much as they did . It was just a fun night . ” Amanda Zimmerman , a Fort Drum Family Advocacy Program educator , said that her son raved about the event when he came home . “An orchestrated Nerf war is a dream to a lot of kids , and my teenager is one of the them , ” she said . “He was so excited to be able to live out a childhood dream all while meeting new teens in a ‘super chill’ setting . He loved interacting with other kids with no pressure , and he has made quite a few friends already . ” Army life can be challenging for youths – moving from one place to the next every few years , and adjusting to a new neighborhood , school and life experiences . “Our goal is to encourage resiliency among teens in just about everything that military life entails , ” Brace said . “One of the biggest things we hear from our teens is that as soon as they make friends , they have to leave them . That is hard to do , and in some cases it causes teens to have walls built up . ” She said that Club Beyond gives teens a place to express their feelings and concerns with others who are familiar with or have experienced similar situations . “Club Beyond focuses specifically on providing that safe space where they can share those experiences and be comfortable talking about it , ” Brace said . “We try to create a special environment where vulnerability is encouraged . ” Club Beyond launched in 1980 and can be found at dozens of military installations worldwide . While the Fort Drum chapter is still in its infancy , Brace said that she sees the impact it is having on the youth community . “The program has grown amazingly , ” she said . “Like anything new , at first it’s about getting to know people , developing name recognition – which we are always going to be working on – and building teams . ” The adult support team and the volunteer team are crucial to the program . “Building those teams is very important because they do so much , and it takes time to train them , ” she said . “This isn’t something that they just show up to . They really dedicate a lot of their time to this . ” Brace was at the “Coffee Connections” meeting at the Family Resource Center , talking about Club Beyond , when Zimmerman told the group about what her son thought about the event . “We do it all for the teens , so when you hear from them that they had a fun time , it absolutely means everything to us , ” Brace said . “It couldn’t have happened at that level without all of our volunteers who came up with ideas , and helped plan and set it all up . ” She said that the teens are encouraged to suggest activities for future gatherings . “Somebody said they wanted a game night , so we had one last Tuesday , ” Brace said . “Any sort of idea they have , we want to hear them and see how we can implement as many as possible . ” Molly Kate Cottle is a Fort Drum teen who has enjoyed how Club Beyond is bringing her community together . “I get to talk with my friends and we always have fun with the themes Mrs . Jen has planned , ” she said . “Because of Mrs . Jen and the team’s dedication to Club Beyond , Fort Drum middle and high schoolers have an opportunity for fun with a good message!” Roughly 50 teens have become active in Club Beyond so far . To call them “members” wouldn’t be accurate since membership is not required and teens don’t have to attend every event . And while the program offers faith - based activities , Brace said that it extends to people of all religions and there is no pressure to participate . “Some people hear the word ‘club’ and they think there will be dues or they have to become a member , ” she said . “And they hear ‘faith - based’ and they think they have to attend church or follow some sort of religious background . This is not the case at all . We are extremely welcoming of all teens , of all backgrounds regardless of what they believe in . We have all kinds of events to make everyone feel welcome . ” Brace said that the summer camps offered through Club Beyond are wildly popular . “They are designed to be the best week of your life – everything from the food , the outdoor and indoor activities , the world - class speakers – kids come back from camp and their lives have truly changed , ” she said . “It is a week not to miss , and we are excited to be able to offer them . ” The Club Beyond team is reaching out to new community members at Fort Drum , and Brace encourages teens to learn more about what the program has to offer . “Club Beyond is perfect for teens looking for community , ” she said , “but also to find genuine relationships in that community while having fun experiences . If you are looking for something more out of your time here at Fort Drum , we want to provide that to you . ” To learn more about Club Beyond , visit www . clubbeyond . org . Fort Drum teens interested in joining can contact Brace at jbrace@clubbeyond . org or www . facebook . com/groups/clubbeyondatfortdrum .
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