Back to the grind ...

... back from vacation, and what a time.

I’ll feature the Ireland trip next Sunday as it was a unique experience to travel back to family ancestral grounds, meet first cousins and do so with my wife, my mom and my uncle.

But getting back to the grind this week was that — a grind. And it was just as much at home as at work.

A parent’s challenge is to provide the best he or she can for a child.

I saw that in Ireland where so many families a century or so ago sent their children to America for better lives.

I’m just trying to get my son to go to hockey camp, and he’s not excited to go.

And therein is that grind: Do you force a child into something you believe will be better for him and that he will benefit from, (and possibly like) once he gets there?

Or do you surrender to his wishes?

That’s why I liked the situation of Mike and Colton Price of Mercer, Pa.

Colton, who’ll be a high- school junior, was the honors graduate this summer for the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps’ Recruit Training Command program that took place at Camp Perry near Sandusky.

“The Sea Cadets to me is a great way to build character and leadership abilities,” Colton said. “You get to experience things that some people may never get to experience in their whole lives, whether it be riding in a Blackhawk helicopter or training with Navy SEALs. When I graduated with honors, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

For Camp Perry, Colton trained at the U.S. Air Force Reserve Base in Vienna, as part of the base’s Sea Cadet Corps program. Through that program, children age 10 to 17 experience activities such as veterinary medical, seamanship, airmanship, SEALS, culinary arts, mine warfare, sailing, firefighting, leadership academies and numerous other courses.

What’s unique about Colton’s program at Vienna is that it’s run by his dad, Michael, who is the program’s top officer. He just took over the role in May and is hoping more Valley kids fall into the same success as his son.

“Cadets are taught the values of courage, honor and commitment,” said Mark. “They learn how to be up in front of a group of cadets and teach a class or to take charge of a detail. They are also taken out of their comfort zones by being challenged to take on more responsibilities and to interact with other cadets who they may not know but must rely upon to accomplish the task at hand.”

Vienna’s Knighthawk Squadron, as it is called, has had a bumpy history that Michael intends to fix and is reaching out to folks such as us and others. It began in 1980 with a Youngstown division. The unit deactivated in 2002, reformed in 2009, stalled in 2011 and reformed again this year.

It had a class of six last year, and he wants to get it to 12 by year’s end. Enrollment is at any time, and programming is age-specific. One weekend a month is the commitment for members.

But Michael’s ambitious and sees the local program getting off base — so to speak.

“I would like to see opportunities to train with the U.S. Coast Guard units on the Great Lakes, or take a trip to a naval base on the East Coast and board an aircraft carrier or to a Blue Angels Air show.”

And he’s got a good start to his plans with Colton.

Many parents I know struggle with the proper balance of letting their children grow themselves, and also pushing them ever so softly (sometimes) into experiences.

Most of my experiences with the boys are sports-related. But there’s also a good dose of community programs, too.

As I sit here now, I’m in my usual role of “bad guy in the house” with this current camp debate.

We’ll take a look at the Sea Cadets camp, too.

Maybe I’m missing the boat on what the boys want to do.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at He blogs, too, on

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