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National Guard Youth Challenge underway

About 115 boys and 25 girls, all hoping to turn their lives around, started the National Guard Youth Challenge Monday at Camp Robinson.
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - About 115 boys and 25 girls, all hoping to turn their lives around, started the National Guard Youth Challenge Monday at Camp Robinson.

That includes Hunter Boydston, who while getting his head shaved said, "feels a little different honestly. Been a long time since I've had my hair cut off like this."

It won't be the last time. Boydston and the other cadets will have their heads shaved several times over the course of the 22-week program. Most are high-school dropouts, many of whom have been in trouble in the past, and either they -- or their parents -- want to turn things around.

"My life, well, I've always been a trouble maker," explained Boydston, still in the make-shift barber's chair. "Always getting in trouble. Been a thief, lying, disrespectful, and I'm hoping this place will change that."

So now the question is -- is a new hairdo as bad as it'll get?

"Oh no," laughed program organizer Col. Joe Moore. "This is just the in-processing part, although I already have some kids who want to go home."

The program focuses on both physical and classroom education. Each cadet will get three chances to earn their G.E.D. Some may even join the armed forces once it's all said and done.

"It's important because it gives kids and their families a second chance," said Moore.

That second chance is still 22 weeks away though. For now, cadets get that new haircut -- and hope.

"Hope I get all of my dreams and hope to reach my goals," said Boydston. "Hope I become a better person."

The Youth Challenge program is free for parents. About 75% of the tab is picked up by the federal government with the other 25% coming from the state.
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