Excess tents offer new shelter for teens in youth program

By Jeff Landenberger DLA Disposition Services

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Tents provided by DLA Disposition Services’ Reutilization, Transfer and Donation Program are now keeping a new educational program going in the Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona.

Routine maintenance by the U.S. Forest Service this past winter discovered mold in cabins used to lodge Youth Conservation Corps crew members during the summer. Besides the local teenagers being part of the YCC summer crew this year, teenagers from across the country including California, Texas and Chicago were to be part of the team.

District Ranger Doug Ruppel at the Coronado National Forest outside of Douglas, Arizona, said the crews work on trial maintenance and learn how to fight wildfires with hands on training without being on the fire line of a real wild fire. He said that while trails and fire control are two key concerns in any national forest, the YCC teams learn about forestry and heritage preservation; as well as the work associated with range, recreation and wildlife management.

“The intent of the program is to have them involved in actual ground work, but also have them have the ability to be exposed to all the different program areas going on in the Forest Service as a way to introduce them to some possible career choices,” Ruppel said.

This was to be the program’s second year, but a solution for the mold in the cabins had to be found, which is where the tents came in.

“So we were contemplating how we could continue to host that program if we were not going to be able to have kids live in that barracks,” Ruppel said.

He said they had used the excess property program in the past to get heavy equipment. This time he said they turned to the program looking for tents or yurts, something to house their YCC crews in.

According to Ruppel it took one of his staff members about 30 minutes to find four 20 by 30 foot wall tents. Three of the tents are now set up and being used -- one for male team members, one for the female team members and the third tent for the adult crew leads. He said the fourth tent was used to replace missing parts for the three they are using.

“They were in perfect shape,” Ruppel said.

Over time, Ruppel said the intent is to set the tents up on a more permanent platform, probably next year. He said they would also like to increase the size of the YCC program to 20 students from the 10 that they currently have.

“I am sold on the RTD program, and it really saved our bacon in this thing with the YCC Crew…,” Ruppel said.

For more information, visit the RTD page on the DLA Disposition Services website.