SPD, scouts partner on kids camp

Published 9:45 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Selma Police Department and Boy Scouts of America Crane District Troop are seeking 60 boys and girls ages 12-16 to join them for a 5-day camp.

The Selma Police Department Youth Leadership Camp started in 2015 as a way to teach the youth various life building skills while also introducing them to law enforcement in a different light.

“The idea was for us to have a camp that our young people could go to [and interact with law enforcement],” said Leith Wilson, senior district executive with Boy Scouts. “We’re all part of the same community working together.”

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Campers will get to go canoeing, swimming, running, rappelling and hiking and will work on a confidence course, archery, first aid training, physical fitness, knot tying, academics and team sports.

They will learn decision making, goal setting, communications, problem solving, conflict resolution and more.

Last year, the U.S. Attorney’s office attended to help bridge that gap between the youth and the officers, and Wilson said they will be there again this year.

Officer Mark Neely will be attending the camp and said he is looking forward to working with the kids and getting to know them.

“It’s about bringing diverse boys and girls from the community together and educating them and teaching them life building skills since they are the future of our community,” Neely said. “You get to put the kids in an environment where they’re able to learn, see new things and experience new things, that way when they come back they can tell their family and friends and make it a trend.”

Neely said he hopes the campers will realize that the officers are approachable, they can confide in them and that they have someone they can look up to and ask for advice.

“Being a police officer, you deal with more adults than anything, and because you deal with more adults, you don’t get to interact with the kids as much, and when the kids see you it’s always in a negative light dealing with the adults,” Neely said. “So with this camp and some of the officers going, it allows them to see a different side of the officers. When you have this camp and they come back into their environment, they look at you a little different … and feel closer to you.”

The camp will run from June 26-30 and those interested in attending can speak with their school’s guidance counselor or contact Wilson at (334) 419-0567 or Neely at (334) 410-0706.