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In this file photo from 2005, Ashlee Kozel, then 15, makes copies as part of her job as a Morale, Welfare and Recreation marketing assistant through the Summer Hire program in Bamberg, Germany. Kozel is one of 300 students in the 98th Area Support Group working six weeks of their summer to earn extra cash.
In this file photo from 2005, Ashlee Kozel, then 15, makes copies as part of her job as a Morale, Welfare and Recreation marketing assistant through the Summer Hire program in Bamberg, Germany. Kozel is one of 300 students in the 98th Area Support Group working six weeks of their summer to earn extra cash. (Rick Emert / S&S)
In this file photo from 2005, Ashlee Kozel, then 15, makes copies as part of her job as a Morale, Welfare and Recreation marketing assistant through the Summer Hire program in Bamberg, Germany. Kozel is one of 300 students in the 98th Area Support Group working six weeks of their summer to earn extra cash.
In this file photo from 2005, Ashlee Kozel, then 15, makes copies as part of her job as a Morale, Welfare and Recreation marketing assistant through the Summer Hire program in Bamberg, Germany. Kozel is one of 300 students in the 98th Area Support Group working six weeks of their summer to earn extra cash. (Rick Emert / S&S)
Sean Starr, 14, organizes a storage room at the Bamberg Chapel Tuesday. Starr chose to work in the labor field in the Summer Hire Program, which has put 300 students in the 98th Area Support Group into the work force.
Sean Starr, 14, organizes a storage room at the Bamberg Chapel Tuesday. Starr chose to work in the labor field in the Summer Hire Program, which has put 300 students in the 98th Area Support Group into the work force. (Rick Emert / S&S)

BAMBERG, Germany — While some of their peers and friends are sleeping in or just hanging out this summer, almost 2,000 teens ages 14 and older have joined the U.S. Army Europe work force.

The workers are part of the Summer Hire program operated by Installation Management Agency-Europe. As of July 15, 1,883 teens were enrolled in the program, IMA officials said.

The six-week program will leave the young workers with about three weeks of summer break before the next school year begins, and they’ll spend those days with some extra cash in their pockets.

“I’m hoping to save up $1,000 to $1,200 to spend the rest of my summer in the States,” said Ashlee Kozel, 15, who is working as a Morale, Welfare and Recreation marketing assistant in Bamberg. She is one of about 300 teens working for the 98th Area Support Group.

Since many of Ashlee’s friends moved back to the United States at the end of the school year, she plans to travel around the States and stay with friends until the school year begins, she said.

Although she worked in the Summer Hire program last year, too, Ashlee said she still cannot get used to the hours.

“The hours are too long, 40 hours a week,” she said. “It’s a good experience, but it’s really hard to do this during the summer.”

And while some of her friends also are working for the summer, others have had some enviable summer experiences.

“I missed a trip to Italy with my friends, but I still get to spend time with them,” she said. “A lot them are working, too.”

While Ashlee chose to work in the clerical field, Sean Starr, 14, chose to be a laborer. He works at the Bamberg chapel.

“Some days are harder, because I have heavy stuff to lift, but it’s good because I get money every two weeks to spend however I want,” he said.

The program often benefits employers as much as the workers.

“[Sean] has done a lot of things that we always wish we had time to do, but couldn’t find the time,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tom Wild, the 279th Base Support Battalion chaplain.

“He has helped improve the upkeep and cleanliness of the chapel, and he is another person on the staff who can help us make progress.”

Sean’s parents encouraged but didn’t force him to get the job to earn some extra spending money. The program pays U.S. teens $5.14 an hour and local national teens 4 euros per hour.

“I knew that I wouldn’t have as much time to play, but I’ll have spending money,” he said. “I can hang out with my friends after the job ends [Aug. 5].”

Not all of the teens work to the end of the session. In the 98th ASG, about 30 of them had quit as of Tuesday, either because they were moving to the States or found a better-paying job, said Callie Mints, summer hire coordinator for the 98th ASG.

“They have to sign an appointment affidavit just like any civilian employee, but they can quit or be fired,” Mints said. “Fortunately, none have been fired yet.”

Both Ashlee and Sean said that these summer jobs would be helpful in the future.

“It’s something that I can put on my resume,” Ashlee said. “This is the kind of work [marketing and public relations] that I want to do later on, so it’s good experience.”

Sean agreed.

“Later on, when I try to get a job, people will look at this and see that I’ve worked full time before,” Sean said.

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