The Fort Belvoir Youth Center hosts its Barbecue Open House for families of youth in grades 6-12, 1-5 p.m. Saturday, at the Youth Center, 5850 Langfitt Loop, Bldg. 1003.

“It’s free,” said Barbara Carroll, assistant director of the Youth Center, about using the Youth Center and most of its resources. “That’s the beauty of it. Other than camp, a field trip, or a lock-in where it’s paid, everything here is free.”

The Youth Center includes a gym, game room, dance room, art room, café, computer lab and homework lab. It also has wifi access. The center offers homework help after school and features an outdoor fitness challenge course, volleyball pit and basketball court outside. 

The Youth Center offers youth opportunities to gain volunteer hours, develop programs for their peers and enhance their resumes, Carroll said. It has fun and educational programming for students. 

Youth Center personnel are trying to develop an adventure trip focused on resilience training, which could use a grant they received.

Carroll said she wants the resilience training to be engaging to youth, so they will do the full training.

“(With the) adventure trip, you’ve got a captive audience, and you can build up on that. It’s all about doing the education without seeming like its education,” she said.

Carroll advised that parents and youth should take advantage of the center.

“We’re here,” she said. “It is a safe, healthy environment for the kids to be in where they can try on all the different hats they are going to try on in life. It gives them a safe space to be who they want to be and come up with ideas. We try to give them the skills that they need in life to succeed, but try doing it in a way that’s fun and in a way that is outwardly teaching them.”

Youth who attend the center get positive guidance from adults in the facility, she said. “This isn’t our program. This is their program,” Carroll said.

“This is by them, for them. We’re just here to provide the support structure for them to succeed.”

The Youth Center is open 1-7 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 1-9 p.m. Friday. To participate, students must be registered through CYS Parent Central Services.

For more information about how to register, call 703- 805-5555. For more information about the Youth Center, call 703-805-4515.