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Military Youth Centers6 minute read • June 29, 2023
The Defense Department knows that military life presents unique challenges for youth and teens — from frequent moves, school transitions and living far away from extended family and friends to worrying about a deployed parent. That’s why the department provides a variety of support programs and services to help youth and teens navigate MilLife challenges and build the skills they need to thrive.
Military youth centers offer a wealth of support for youth and teens. Centers provide a fun space for youth and teens to socialize with peers, work with mentors, pursue recreational and educational interests, develop workforce and leadership skills, and much more. Centers are staffed with trained professionals who understand how to connect with youth, support them in their teen years and recognize the signs of stress. Resources can vary by location, but most centers offer computer labs for homework support and tutoring; gymnasiums for supervised sports; fitness, music and game rooms; field trips and more.
Looking for youth and teen programs?
Use MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to contact your local youth center.
Learn more about military youth and teen programs.
Military youth and teen programs offer an array of educational and recreational opportunities, including partnership programs with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and 4-H. From art, music and supervised sports to career prep, leadership development, summer camps and more, youth centers offer something for teens of all interests and skill levels.
When I first joined the youth center, there were so many opportunities I was able to attend that really gave me the ability to expand my horizons and figure out what I really wanted to do.
– Victor O., National Military Youth of the Year 2021
In addition to recreation and education opportunities, youth/teen centers also provide a place for military-connected youth to nurture their mental health and well-being. Connecting with peers who share the same interests and MilLife challenges can help youth and teens develop important social and emotional skills and feel supported. Centers provide teens with autonomy, a variety of opportunities and a space where they can be themselves, as well as introduce them to offerings through Boys & Girls Clubs of America and 4-H Military Partnership. View the following videos to hear teens talk about the positive impact military youth programs have had on their lives.
You meet new people, you make new friends … and you know that even if you’re moving, you’re going to have a youth center to go to and kind of make the same connections. And even if you’re starting over, you’re never starting at base one. You always know you have a second home to go to.
– Madison E., Offut Air Force Base
Your youth center is the place where you can go and be yourself authentically, and it’s going to have such an amazing impact on your life.
– Ahsha B., National Military Youth of the Year 2022
Moving around can sometimes be difficult and, at a young age especially, it was hard to make new friends at first. I joined 4-H. I quickly learned there was something for everyone.
– Ashley G., Louisiana 4-H Alum and military-connected teen
In addition to helping youth connect with peers, youth/teen centers also offer teens the opportunity to work with experienced advisors. Advisors are caring professionals who understand the challenges of military life and being a teen. They can provide guidance to help teens navigate MilLife challenges such as the emotional effects of deployments, changing schools and making new friends. Advisors can also help teens learn new skills and develop their personal strengths to prepare them to successfully transition into adulthood. View the following video to hear youth program professionals talk about what working with teens means to them.
The most meaningful thing about advising a military teen for me was the ability to help them reach their best self.
– Brandon G., Youth Programs Staff, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
The best part of working with Child and Youth programs is working with the teens. I think they need an advocate. Most of the time their voices are not heard, and I think the teen center is a great place for that.
– Jacque L. Baumholder, Youth Programs, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Falz
Additional Youth Programs resources
For more information about Youth Programs, check out the following from Military OneSource:
- Youth Services for National Guard Families — Read how Child and Youth Services offers outcome-based activities designed to foster positive youth development and support the unique strengths and challenges of National Guard children.
- Youth Sponsorship — Learn how youth sponsors and military youth programs can help transitioning military youth feel at home in their new community.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America: Military Partnership — Explore how to help your children, youth and teens meet new people, try new things and have fun with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
- 4-H Military Partnership Program podcast — Learn about programs for military-connected youth, including 4-H clubs and summer camps focused on STEM, healthy living, civic engagement, public speaking and more.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Military Youth of the Year video — Learn about programming available for youth and teens and hear recipients of the Military Youth of the Year award talk about their experiences.
If you have questions about your local youth/teen center or are looking for off-installation resources, Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7 to help answer your questions and connect you with the support you need. Call 800-342-9647, use international calling options or schedule a live chat.