Fort Hood’s Child & Youth Services offers an array of instructional programs to help the Great Place’s youth expand their horizons and find their passions.
There are nearly 50 different classes and events under the instructional program umbrella, according to Brenda Brown, instructional program specialist, CYS. The programs are open to all Department of Defense affiliated children, including children of active duty Soldiers, retirees and DoD civilians. The CYS Instructional Programs were previously called SKIESUnlimited.
“Instructional programming offers children the opportunity to explore the world and themselves so they can try out different things and see what they’re interested in,” Brown said.
Some of the programs offered are daily or weekly classes, while others are single events held monthly or quarterly. The types of classes offered vary greatly, from martial arts and outdoor adventure, to dance and gymnastics, to music and fine arts, to music and sports, to cooking and more.
The majority of the classes are geared toward kids between the ages of five and 18, but several classes are open to kids as young as one year old.
CYS has recently added outdoor adventure classes like a survival skills class, kayaking and paddleboarding, paint by the lake, paintball challenges and more.
“That’s going to be really fun. It’s bringing some new things to the table for the older kids,” Brown said. “As for the teens, there’s not a lot of fun things to do for the summer, so that gives them an opportunity to get outside and do some rock climbing and kayaking and paddleboarding and exciting sports like that. And they’re in a safe place with an instructor who’s qualified and certified.”
Possibly one of the more unique classes CYS offers is the “Princess Class,” a class that teaches etiquette through the lens of fairy tales.
“We call it Princess Class, and Prince Charming is welcome to come of course,” Brown said. “We get them dressed up and we eat a small meal and we talk about how you say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and how we sit at the table and how we talk and make eye contact and shake hands. So, we’re learning those things, but the kids are just having fun because they just went to a party.”
Most of the classes are fee-based, but the class fees are comparable and competitive with what a similar program would cost outside the gate.
Karate is one of the martial arts that Fort Hood’s youth can learn through the CYS Instructional Programs. Christine Fletcher, a fourth degree black belt, has been teaching karate through CYS since 2011.
Fletcher, as an instructor, makes a point to take her students to tournaments at the local, state, national and international level to expose them to more karate practitioners.
“I think this is good to get out and see different people, see different skill levels,” she said. “So when they go out to karate tournaments, they’re not just looking at students in class.”
For the classes where students achieve “levels” or certifications, the certifications are through nationally-recognized organizations and will follow students to other duty stations if a Family moves.
Nearly all the classes offered are located on Fort Hood at various facilities, while some may be located off-post at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, or other facilities in local communities.
The CYS Instructional Program partners with a local gymnastics gym to offer several levels of gymnastics lessons.
The class instructors are contractors who have gone through extensive background checks and hold CPR and first aid certifications.
“Our instructors are wonderful people,” Brown said. “When I hire them, I try to make sure they show that love for the kids and for the activity. If you’re not passionate about what you’re teaching, then the kids are not going to care. You have to be excited about it.”
With the school year coming to an end, the CYS Instructional Programs will be continuing throughout the summer, even adding more classes and events to its schedule.
“We’ll do some STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) classes over the summer months and tumbling and all kinds of things to sign up for,” Brown said. “If (the parents) just want to go in there and check it out and see what your child is interested in, that way we can help them start learning their passion today.”
CYS is always looking to expand its offerings for the instructional programs, Brown said.
“That’s the fun thing of being in instructional programming,” she said. “Pretty much any thing can be an instructional program. ...Anything that you can think of that you can teach the kids, we can have a class for.”
For a complete list of the current CYS Instructional Program offerings and to register, visit www.go.usa.gov/xn4rd.