Archery is just one of the sports camps being offered by Child and Youth Services this summer at Fort Drum. The CYS staff has planned a myriad of activities to keep youths active, engaged and social all summer long. (File photo)


Fort Drum Child and Youth Services offers fun programs to keep youths active, social during summer months


Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs


FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 26, 2021) – The school year is close to an end, and children will soon leave their classrooms and remote learning environments for a well-deserved break.

The Fort Drum Child and Youth Services staff is ready to provide activities to keep youths active, engaged and social all summer long.

“Last summer we were limited to the things we could do with our children because of the pandemic,” said Robin Banks, CYS chief. “But because some of those measures have been lifted now, you’re going to see more things opening up again. We’re able to restart programs we normally would have, while still mitigating for COVID-19 and being safe about it.”

Joshua Herzig, CYS Sports and Fitness assistant director, anticipates a welcome change from a year ago when no athletics were offered.

“We are opening up our CYS sports summer camps for registration starting May 26,” he said. “I think that registering kids to our programs gives them opportunities to get outside and be active, while making friendly relationships with kids they may never have met otherwise.”

Herzig said that the camps also give children a chance to either try something they have never experienced before or strengthen skills in a sport they are already active in through school athletics or youth leagues.

“Year in and year out, we look for camps we can run that will be successful, and over the course of 10 years we’ve added or removed a few camps,” Herzig said. “We do our best to put out a product we feel will be successful and that families will enjoy.”

Currently the summer CYS Sports and Fitness calendar includes the following:

*Archery Camp for ages 7-15, July 6-9 and Aug. 9-12;

*Soccer Camp for ages 6-12, July 12-15;

*Recreational Sports Camp for ages 7-14, July 26-29;

*Fitness Boot Camp for ages 6-13, Aug. 2-5;

*Golf Camp for ages 9-12, Aug. 2-5; and

*Basketball Camp for ages 6-12, Aug. 23-26.

For more information about these camps, call (315) 772-6718 or visit CYS Sports and Fitness, Bldg. 10790 on Chapel Drive.

While the Youth Center has temporarily relocated inside the Sports and Fitness Center for a renovation project, the free programs for students in grades six through 12 have been available this school year.

Steven Ferguson, CYS Youth Program manager, said that the transition back from virtual programming has been met with enthusiasm in the community.

“We have already seen a difference in many of our youths,” he said. “We have always been a place for members to come and hang out with their friends. When we initially opened, we had members waiting at the door before our scheduled opening hours.”

The Youth Center offers daily facilitated and non-facilitated programming in five service areas: the Arts; Education and Career Development; Character and Leadership Development; Sports, Fitness and Recreation; and Health, Wellness and Life Skills.

A Youth of the Year orientation is scheduled from 5 to 6 p.m. June 4 for youths and parents to learn about this Boys and Girls Clubs of America recognition and scholarship program.

“Over the past few years, our youths have won scholarships ranging from $4,600 to $10,000,” Ferguson said. “This is a great program and opportunity, but unfortunately, many people are unaware that it is available.”

Other June programs include Drama Matters, Lego Robotics and Sewing Project, ending with a Summer Kickoff and Open House from 3 to 5:30 p.m. June 25. In addition, the free Midnight Sports program will return in July. Several programs focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning, such as Intro to 3D Printing, Lego Architecture and Raspberry Pi.

“There is a program that we have had success with called the Summer Brain Gain,” Ferguson said. “This is a Boys and Girls Clubs of America program that is composed of weekly themed fun activities for youths. Members are engaged in a process of learning through discovery, creative expression, group work and a final project or production.” 

Ferguson said that they have partnered with the School Age Center, to involve youths from kindergarten through fifth grade.

“That partnership will provide an opportunity for our members to work with the younger youths in STEM-related programs,” he said. “Our members will help instruct the younger youths in Lego robotics, coding, arts and crafts projects, and many more activities.”

For more information about Youth Center events, visit and

Lori McKenna, School Age Center facility director, said that children will have opportunities for great outdoor experiences through 4-H and the Boys and Girls Club of America. They also will be able to participate in on-post field trips and STEM-related activities at SAC throughout the summer.

“Over the summer, we will continue to engage the minds of the children in our program,” McKenna said. “Our themed weeks strategically help the children learn without even knowing they are learning. For example, our first week of camp is themed Road Trip USA, and we will be ‘traveling’ the across the country learning about different historical sites, learning state capitols and about different cultures and food from different regions.”

Col. Jeffery Lucas, Fort Drum garrison commander, said that he applauds the efforts being made to help set children up for a productive summer.

“The last year has been hard for us all, but especially so for our children,” Lucas said. “There is something about summer break that sets the tone for the upcoming school year, and we hope these quality-of-life programs get us going in a great direction.”

Banks said that what appears like fun and games for children has greater intentions.

“All the programs available to our youths over the summer – it’s mind stimulation, it’s keeping them active, it’s developing skills,” Banks said. “If they don’t continue to hone in on those activities throughout the summer, it becomes a struggle for them once the new school year starts. It’s also developing their social skills, because they interact with friends and new people, and they’re building these relationships so once they return to school they won’t be so fearful in that environment.”

Lucas said that as more events and activities become available in the coming months, it is everyone’s hope that conditions continue to improve where children can be reintegrated into classrooms in September.

“We’ve been in constant communication with BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) and local school district leadership during the pandemic, and we know – and appreciate – that they’re working hard to get all children back to a full-time, in-person academic setting in September,” he said.

Until then, Banks said that community members can visit the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website or call any of the facilities to find out what CYS has to offer now.

“I am very happy that we are able to support our children this way,” she said. “And I’m excited to see what’s going to come as we move forward. Even though the pandemic is still here, and we have all seen how that has hindered our lives and what we are able to do, we were still able to adjust and adapt to it. As restrictions continue to be lifted, we’re able to do even more. So, watch out, here comes CYS!”