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Boot Camp for At-Risk Youth
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 At-risk Asbury Park youths, who have been arrested for drugs, theft and fighting at school, will be living at a “boot camp” at the Salvation Army in Asbury Park next month in an effort to turn their lives around.
  A limited number of spaces are still available for the intense, week-long boot camp being offered to male Asbury Park teens between the ages of 14 and 16.
 The new program – headed by Salvation Army Major Jeffery T. Bassett and City Police Director L. Louis Jordan – is structured like a military boot camp, and is aimed at exposing at-risk teens to the rewards of discipline, education, employment, and self-respect.
 “My honest goal is to take those kids whose lives are at a dead end and turn them around and expose them to a positive experience,” Bassett said. “They will come in as someone who is unemployable and leave as someone who a business will want to hire.”
 The boot camp has space for 20 youths, who will live at the Salvation Army for the week-long program. Many of the youths have been ordered by the court to attend but none are violent offenders.
 “Some will be here by choice, others are mandated,” Bassett said.
 Bassett said he had been thinking about a boot camp for a few years. Serious planning for it began 14 months ago among Bassett, former Councilwoman Kate Mellina, Police
Director Lou Jordan and attorney Ron Troppoli.
 “We want to do it right,” Bassett said. “Myself, Lou Jordan and Ron will be living with the kids here. During the day we have volunteers who will help take them to ShopRite and other businesses and county parks.”
  Activities will include team-building and character training; motivational drills; talks on drugs, violence and anger management; community service projects; life skills; job skills; and more.
 “We believe this program will provide an incredible opportunity for young people who have made some bad choices in the past to succeed and excel to become the future leaders of our great community,” Bassett said.
 Bassett and Jordan have reached out to Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as local congregations to maintain contact with the participants and their families for ongoing support after graduation.
  Interviews for youths interested in attending are being conducted at the Salvation Army, 605 Asbury Ave., Asbury Park on Saturday, July 2 between 10 a.m. and noon.  Teens must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian at the interviews.
 For more information or to schedule an interview, call Bassett or Captain Cynthia Foster at 732-775-8698, ext. 16.
Coaster Photo
Salvation Army Major Jeffery T. Bassett stands in the room which is being prepared for a boot camp.
6/30/05