Needham Jones Boot Camp returning after COVID-19 cancellation
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The African American Military History Museum will be hosting the 7th Annual Needham Jones Boot Camp this year after canceling last year’s camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s Boot Camp will last for five days, on July 13 – 21, 2021, from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
“We are pleased to be able to offer the Needham Jones Boot Camp again this summer after having to cancel the event last year due to COVID-19 restrictions,” said Latoya Norman, Museum Manager.
The camp started in 2014 as the “Back-to-School Boot Camp,” and it is designed to teach participants the techniques, skills and tips to help them better navigate the stresses and demands of the school year, along with giving them life lessons that could help them in the future.
Changes have been made since the camp’s first year, and it now focuses on males ages 12- 15.
In 2018, the camp was renamed the Needham Jones Boot Camp in honor of a local WWII veteran whose passion was to encourage and inspire young men to pursue higher learning, hopefully allowing them to be the best version of themselves.
Lectures, interactive discussions and participatory activities in the areas of communication, self-confidence building, citizenship, team building, career exploration and health and wellness, are all included in the camp.
MSG David A. Brooks, master leader course facilitator with the 154th Regional Training Institute 3rd Non-Commission Officers Academy, will lead this year’s Boot Camp. This will be his third year leading the camp.
“My community involvement philosophy is shaped by Marcus Garver, who said, ‘I trust that you will so live today as to realize that you are masters of your own destiny, masters of your fate; if there is anything you want in this world, it is for you to strike out with confidence and faith in self and reach for it,’” said Brooks.
“The knowledge, life skills, and friendships given to me by all my mentors have shaped who I am. So, I am guided by the fact that I am a product of years of combined mentors who also decided to give back and pave the way for the next generation. That is why I am involved in the Boot Camp to encourage and help lead the young men in achieving their life goals and success.”
Former Boot Camp participant, SPC Melychy Hall spoke about what he learned during his time at the camp and how it helped him make his decision on joining the National Guard of the United States.
“The Boot Camp was inspiring. I learned about teamwork, respect for others and yourself, and I gained friendships,” Hall said. “The biggest takeaway was I learned more about myself. I was thinking about joining the National Guard before I attended the camp. My participation helped further my decision in joining the Guard.”
The camp is free for participants, thanks to financial gifts from local sponsors, and limited to 15 participants.
Lunch and snacks will be given each day, and school supplies will be given to each participant.
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