Partnering together, Fort Hood hosted the Austin Police Department Office of Community Liaison Summer Youth Leadership Camp, which began Monday.

Soldiers mentored Austin Independent School District students for four days during their four-week long summer camp. Barracks and dining facility meals were provided for the 19 6-12th grade students during their stay. The summer camp is made free for the youth through donations.

Students participated in the confidence course at the Air Assault School, went on a tour of the 89th Military Police Brigade motor pool, climbed the rock walls at the Applied Functional Fitness Center, went on a tour of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, watched a movie at the USO and more.

Printed on the back of their light blue summer camp shirts read the words “Leadership begins with me!”

Gloria Tran, 15, currently an Anderson High School 10th grader, and will be an 11th grader in the fall, has attended the summer camp held by the Austin PD for the last six years.

“I think that the June camp leading the middle schoolers is my favorite part, because I want to become a leader later on in life…,” Tran said. “And it’s a chance for me to show my leadership skills and see how I can tweak them to make them better and be a better leader.”

To be accepted into the July summer camp for the youth, students must volunteer as a mentor for the younger students during the June summer camp.

Tran said that the Austin PD staff encourages them to “lead by example”. Tran also shared her favorite experience while participating in the summer camp on Fort Hood.

“I think learning about all the kinds of jobs that they have available in the Army,” Tran said. “It’s not just being a Soldier, there is also communications, there are the cooks that they have, there’s also the first aid people, there’s also the doctors that work here on base.”

Staff Sgt. Nathan Akridge, attached to the 89th MP Bde., said that it has been a great opportunity to work with the youth and the Austin PD.

“My favorite thing about working with the kids is getting that time with them as a group, but also that one-on-one time,” Akridge said, “where you can sit down with those kids and make a difference in their life, be a role model for them and answer questions about the military, but also answer questions about life ...”

Akridge said that educating students on available options is important for them to make future decisions about what they wish to do after high school in order to have a brighter future.