Charlotte Hatch, 17, Matt Apodaca, 18, and Amber Boldin, 14, participated in the summer hire program at Hohenfels, Germany, this year.

Charlotte Hatch, 17, Matt Apodaca, 18, and Amber Boldin, 14, participated in the summer hire program at Hohenfels, Germany, this year. (Seth Robson / S&S)

HOHENFELS, Germany — If you thought some of the staff working at Army posts in Europe this summer looked a little on the young side you were not hallucinating. For the past six weeks, U.S. teenagers have been helping with various projects at bases all over Europe as part of the Army’s summer hire program.

The program, operated by U.S. Army Europe and Installation Management Agency-Europe, hires teens to work at clerical, recreational and manual labor positions during two summer sessions. The students are paid $5.14 an hour. An Army public affairs official said this year’s program will be reviewed in the next two weeks to determine how many hours were worked, how much money the Army spent and how much it saved through the program.

Hohenfels school liaison officer Michele Wolff said 109 kids participated in this year’s program at Hohenfels. She said the garrison gets good value for the money spent on it. “For organizations here, our labor costs are nothing. The kids have a great time and earn some money,” she said.

At Hohenfels, teen workers ran a youth sports camp, painted sports facilities and barracks and worked in various offices, Wolff said. “For some of these kids, it’s their first job ever. The goal is to give them a positive experience and introduce them to the work force,” she said.

The program also involved training on personal finances, leadership skills and interviews techniques, plus a briefing on dating and violence, she said.

Matt Apodaca, 18, a recent graduate of Hohenfels High School, is a three-year veteran of the summer hire program. For the past two years he has supervised a post beautification project that employs 12 other youths.

“This year we picked up trash, helped make the base look better and painted buildings. We’d get jobs done quickly because we had 12 people,” he said.

The teen, who plans to attend the University of Texas, El Paso, said he may apply to join the Army or Air Force officer training programs, partially as a result of his summer experience.

“I enjoyed being a supervisor during the summer hire program and learning to be a leader and tell people what to do,” he said.

Charlotte Hatch, 17, worked in the base library inprocessing soldiers and reading to young children. “I read about seven books to the children,” said Hatch. “I’m thinking of becoming a librarian when I grow up. You get to hang out with a lot of people.”

Amber Boldin, 14, also from Hohenfels High, worked at the base post office where she unloaded boxes and sent out mail. She took the job because her mother worked there and liked the people, she said.

Does she plan on working for the post office after high school?

“No, I want to be a lawyer,” she said, adding that she didn’t expect her mail-sorting skills to be required in that profession.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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