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PHOTOS: Military Family Teens Tackle USO Yokosuka's 'Amazing Race' Challenge

Monday, September 17, 2012

USO Yokosuka Center Operation Manager Jason Rouse checks in with a recap of a great activity focused on military children and modeled after the popular CBS reality show "The Amazing Race." 

"On August 25, six teams of teens from Yokosuka Naval Base took part in the first ever USO Yokosuka / MWR Teen Center Amazing Race. The day was clear and hot and the course started off with a challenging run up 'Weather Hill' followed by a mini-crucible laid out by Gunnery Sgt. Veracruz from FASTPAC. The racers then braved other challenges that included bowling and assembling a puzzle while blindfolded. Near the end of the race the teens were faced with a choice in the race's only 'Detour': Get Wet or Stay Dry. After the 'Detour,' the teams ran into the finish line at the MWR Teen Center and were welcomed with a post-race BBQ!"


The teams prepare to take off for the opening sprint. The total course was plotted at about 3.1 miles with the first two legs the longest at .75 miles each, including pretty significant elevation changes.


Rouse explained how the idea for the event came about. “Recently in Yokosuka the Trevor Romain Company and Sesame Street entertained the younger crowd and we felt that the 13- to 18-year-olds here needed to have something, as well. The 'Teen Amazing Race' was initially planned as a photo scavenger hunt and evolved into something much bigger."


One team opens up the directions to the “Detour,” which turned out to be "Get Wet" or "Stay Dry.” Teams had to choose between either retrieving five dive sticks from the bottom of the Seahawk Natatorium or moving three, 45 lb. weights from the racquetball court on the first floor to the pool party room on the second floor.


One team chose to "Get Wet" for the "Detour" as one girl passes one of the sticks to a teammate.


Andrew McClure gets guidance from Gunnery Sgt. Veracruz on the aforementioned "mini-crucible."

"I enjoyed how it was a physical challenge and it's not something that we get to do very often," McClure said. "And I really liked that there were prizes at the end, it really gave energy to the event, people really wanted to win it. I would enjoy doing another race like this one; it was pretty fun."


One team flashes greetings as they exit the bowling alley after completing the second "Road Block": one member of the team had to bowl until they reached a score of 75 and to make it more interesting the team member had to volunteer for the challenge before knowing what it was.


The final “Road Block” challenge was a test of senses and communication.Two teammates had to direct the third, blindfolded teammate, to assemble a simple stacking puzzle. Once properly assembled the team was given the clue to the next location.


At the finish, Jason Rouse, far right, hands out the prizes to the first-place winners Ian O'Brien, Quinton Holden and Keenan Hadorn, all from Kinnick High School's football team.

“It was actually really fun,” O’Brien said. “I was thinking it was going to be easier, but I had to push myself to try and finish this. After running across the base I see Marines just waiting for us, arms folded, and announcing ‘this is the crucible’ and all I could think was 'Awww, man ...'." Ian and his crew went on to complete the course in just over an hour, a full 15 minutes before the next team.

Prizes were awarded for first, second and third place teams. First place winners each received two tickets to Tokyo Disney, courtesy of Coca-Cola Japan, and a $25 iTunes gift card. The second place team each took home an iPod Shuffle and a $25 iTunes gift card. Third place team members received an iLuv Active Speaker and a $25 iTunes gift card. The teams that didn't place were each given a USO jersey t-shirt and a USO water bottle for coming out and having fun.

For Rouse, events like this show how the USO tries to reach everyone in the military family.

“When planning events in Yokosuka I try to find a good balance between troop-oriented and family-oriented events,” he said. “Many of the ships deploy over the summer months, so it only seems natural to do more for the military family then. As far as the actual planning process, I try to think about things that I enjoyed doing growing up and find a way to make them fun for others as well. These family-friendly events are important in Yokosuka because they remind our patrons that we're here to lift the spirits of America's troops AND their families."

* Click over to USO Yokosuka's Facebook page to see more images from the "Teen Amazing Race." 

(Photos by Jewell Willett / USO. Produced by Christian Pelusi) 

Federal employees can help the USO fulfill its mission to support troops and their families through the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign. Please designate #11381. 

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