Kid's Camp is a hit
By By Mitch Freeman Madison County Record
This year's Kid's Camp was big hit with local youngsters, who spent a week with Madison law enforcement personnel.
Madison DARE and School Resource Officers said so many kids signed up for the camp this year, they had to make it two-week event. Each week, the kids participate in five days packed full of fun activities that promote teamwork
"The main purpose is to show them teamwork and how police and fire departments work," Discovery Middle School SRO Jeff Hovis said.
Hovis is the coordinator for Kid's Camp this year, which was held at Discovery.
Police DARE officer Jim Cook, coordinator for Kid's Camp last year, said they reinforce what the kids have learned through DARE, about not getting caught up in drug use and violence.
Students are introduced to the DARE program in the fifth grade. The kids at the camp will all be sixth graders next school year.
The kids are divided into five teams, each of which lead by a DARE officer or SRO. They compete in all kinds of team activities like kick ball, simulated rock climbing and the water relay. Each day, points are tallied to determine the winning team.
"We emphasize how to win and loose with class," Cook said.
The water relay is where the firefighters come into play. Assisted by a firefighter, teams of kids pull a fire hose along for about 20 yards, knocking down obstacles with the spewing water. Everybody was soaking wet and loving it.
Cook said, "Last year, it took me two days to get the mud out of my ears."
Firefighters also took the kids across the street on a tour through Fire Station No. 2 and their "safety house". The safety house is a facility built with donations by the firefighters, used to teach fire safety.
U.S. Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal and K-9 units conducted demonstrations for the kids, as did the Madison SWAT team. A volunteer from each team got to suit up in 63 pounds of EOD "bomb squad" protective gear. Some of the kids were also able to test-drive the bomb disposal robots.
So, what do the kids think about Kid's Camp?
"DARE is very fun and good for kids," Kathrine Abell said.
"You get wet an awful lot." Lacey Tidwell said.
"Kid's Camp is a great event," Alex Bramlett said.
"The officers enjoy the interaction and the kids get a kick out of it," Busken said. "We want to be a positive influence before somebody has an opportunity to be a bad influence."
The annual camp is free to the kids, sponsored by the Madison Police Foundation. The foundation operates on local donations. The camp was a Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. event. Soft drinks are provided and the kids bring their lunch.
Madison Police Chief Dan Busken is the one responsible for making Kid's Camp what it is.
"The chief is out here every day to check on things," Cook said.
Kids Camp gets bigger every year.
"We had about 100 kids the first year and about 150 the second year. This year we had about 180 kids," Busken said.