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By Jesse Coombs

Hello Everyone,

My good friend, Jason Rackley, and I went to Roseburg, OR to meet with at risk kids in the Job Corps. The Job Corps organizer, Connie Battles, did a great job of putting this event together and getting Jason and I prepared for the event. The Outdoor Recreation Center of Oregon State University was generous like they always are, and donated the use of many of the boats, skirts and paddles we used for the event. I truly enjoyed spending the time with Jason getting to and from the event as well as his invaluable help with gear, perspective and teaching on the water.

We were not sure how much success we would have talking with these at-risk kids about the detrimental effects of drugs on one’s life. These young adults ranged from 16-19 years old and have already made many of the decisions in their life regarding how they feel about drugs. Connie was so concerned about their receptiveness regarding an anti-drug message that she neglected to tell them this aspect of the presentation and only billed it as a ‘learn to kayak’ event, hoping this would boost voluntary attendance. Regardless, the purpose of JCF is to encourage kids to chose a life free of drugs, so we were going to try no matter what. Interestingly, they young adults were very attentive to the anti-drug portion of the presentation and spoke of their own efforts to make better decisions. They especially lit up as they talked about the goals in their own lives. They also seemed especially interested in the before and after photos of meth users and had tons of questions for Jason and me about being a professional and traveling kayaker. It really drove home the point that these kids make poor decisions in life because of poor influence, not because of an inherent interest to destroy their lives.

This link is the story Jason Rackley wrote about our presentation to the Job Corps kids.

These young adults are excited about becoming carpenters, forest fire fighters, certified nurses and painters. I am truly impressed. I encourage everyone to learn more about Jobs Corps and support this organization. The kids have to apply to participate and are held to a high standard to maintain participation. It is a tough program where the kids learn a lot of responsibility and skills to help themselves and help their community. This is not a program where you have to wonder if your support is making a difference and if the target group is benefiting from your support. The young adults unquestionably are benefiting and changing as a result of Job Corps.

Here are some great links and interesting facts from Connie about Job Corps worth reviewing.

Job Corps is a vocational training program. Over 60% of our students arrive without GED or High School Diploma. Over 60% come to our program testing positive for drug or alcohol use/problems. Students range from 16 to 24 years old. Approx 75% males 25% females. Participants qualify based on socioeconomic status.