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Announcing New Cadet Protection Manager

Posted on April 5, 2024 at 11:05 AM by Katie Thurson

I'm thrilled to join the National Cadet Programs Team as the Youth Protection Program Manager. Throughout my experiences, whether living in different places or serving in different roles, my passion has always been working with and empowering youth and the adults who guide them, be it as parents, educators, instructors, or mentors. I feel privileged to contribute to an organization deeply committed to integrity, service, and excellence alongside an incredible network of volunteers and staff. As a youth development researcher, data analyst, camp director, and risk manager, I understand the value of a quality out-of-school time program like CAP, both experientially and data-driven, to prepare youth to meet the moment through academic, skill, and character development.

The new Youth Protection Program Manager position plays a vital role in safeguarding the well-being of over 29,000 cadets across America. This position will collaborate internally across Cadet Programs and other parts of CAP at the national and regional levels and collaborate externally with other youth development organizations to promote evidence-based practices and proactive measures against bullying, hazing, and other forms of harm. 

Before joining CAP, I was part of the youth protection team at Clemson University, supporting a state-wide network of out-of-school time programs, ranging from 4H summer camps to weekend academic competitions and truly everything in between. Clemson's commitment to service, excellence, and self-reliance was a strong precursor to the work of CAP; I just didn't know it at the time! I completed two master's degrees at Clemson, in Parks, Recreation, Tourism Management (PRTM) and Data Science and Analytics, respectively. I am a doctoral candidate in the PRTM department, with a focus on youth development. Outside of Clemson, I am an avid volunteer with the American Camp Association, serving as an accreditation volunteer and member of the national Staff Retention and Recruitment Committee, and collaborating with the camps on campus affinity group to develop professional development resources.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading, swimming, traveling, and volunteering, and I split my time between Clemson, SC, and Jacksonville, FL, with my puppy S'more (who thankfully loves a road trip). In addition to my experience at Clemson, I have also worked as part of the leadership team at Camp Zeke, a large overnight summer camp in the Pennsylvania. This opportunity to work directly with youth and staff members was a vital complement to my perspective as a risk manager involved with youth protection, allowing me to see how the smaller pieces of the puzzle interacted with the whole. 

A community built on strong relationships promotes an engaging and healthy environment for youth and a culture of well-being in which abuse in any form is not tolerated. A commitment to youth protection is a commitment to program quality and sustainability, and I look forward to contributing to this work alongside the CAP community.

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