OXFORD —The Butler County Chiefs of Police Association is working hard every year to teach local and regional children teamwork and “Respect for Law.”
The 23rd Respect for Law Camp was held Friday, June 23, through Sunday, June 25. The weekend kicked off with the young teenagers checking into Dennison Hall on Miami University’s Campus and ended with graduation held in Hall Auditorium on Sunday.
It was an emotional graduation for Camp Director Candace Keller, who directed the camp for her last year. Brian Curlis will take over in the future. According to Curlis, this year the camp welcomed 107 campers, ages 10-14. While the camp mostly accepts ages 11-14, they do occassionally accept 10-year-olds.
The kids are split among eight color coated platoons. Each platoon is led by three leaders from law enforcement agencies throughout Butler County. While the campers are housed at Miami University the for overnight stay, most of the events take place at the Butler Tech campus in Fairfield Township.
According to Curlis, this is why the camp is capped at a max of 112 campers — transportation becomes difficult with much more than that.
During the weekend, the campers are immersed in a “militaristic” style of teaching, but Curlis stressed, this is a Law Camp, not a Military Camp.
“The kids really like that discipline,” Curlis said. “But it’s not a military camp, we’ve had quite a few people join law enforcement or the military, but that’s not what we’re trying to get kids to do. We want kids to believe in themselves, respect others, work on teamwork, and of course compassion and kindness.”
The events included: rappelling, building searches, high and low ropes courses, mock felony car crash, motorcycle and bicycle demonstrations, driving simulator, Firearms Training Simulator (FATS), police and medical aviation, SWAT and SRT, bomb squad, and an FBI Pellet Gun Course.
“They really look forward to the FBI Pellet Course. The platoons compete — I think Silver Platoon won overall. They enjoy that. They enjoy the bomb range, they get to blow some stuff up. They enjoy teamwork activities like the adventure race down at Miami University, and the high ropes course out there. A tower search, which is going into a building and looking for bad guys, that’s something they really enjoy. They enjoy the entire camp, but those are some of the highlights. Plus, meeting the K9 dogs,” Curlis said.
As for awards, each platoon gets recognized for Best Camper, Brian Rowe Spirit Award, Most Improved, and Top Gun. The Best Platoon is also recognized, as well as the overall Top Gun.
“The purpose of Law Camp is to introduce these kids at this young age to law enforcement and to see a different side of law enforcement,” Curlis said. “Also, they learn respect for law enforcement and get to work on teamwork. They see our principals, which is the Respect, Spirit, Leadership, Teamwork, and Kindness. Some of these kids have never been to a camp before. Unfortunately, in our society today, teamwork is not pushed as it could be.
“They get to interact with law enforcement, which you don’t see. Especially kids coming from broken backgrounds, they get to interact with law enforcement in a negative way and now this is a positive experience. Of course, society has changed here in the last three and a half years, as for what we see and what the news media portrays a lot. Social media has changed a lot for us. This is an opportunity for us to put out there a different light of law enforcement. We do it for the kids.”
For every kid who wants to go to Respect for Law Camp, it costs $150, but it’s an expensive feat to run the camp. To keep it running every year, there are numerous fundraisers. The annual golf outing is the main one and is coming up on Sunday, Aug. 27. More information on this fundraiser can be found on the Respect for Law Camp Facebook page.
They also get money from different departments for their education fund. Different products are also donated. While it is $150 per camper, there are scholarships available for those who cannot afford that fee. According to Curlis, as long as there is room in the camp, they do not turn away kids for scholarships.
More information on Respect for Law Camp can be found on social media or at respectforlawcamp.org.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH