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A Variety of Fun Learning Experiences at Centre County Camp Cadet

by on August 04, 2013 1:55 AM

Since 1984, the Centre County Camp Cadet program has been giving youngsters an opportunity to learn about local law enforcement in a fun and engaging environment.

Susan White, a staff assistant for the State College Police Department who has been helping out with the camp since its creation, says the variety of learning opportunities the camp offers makes it a great event for pre-teens.

“Every year they try to get something different for the kids,” White says.

Camp Cadet's mission is to "develop a better understanding between the youth of Centre County and its law enforcement officers." There are activities every day, led by instructors from local police, fire and EMS departments as well as the FBI, Fish and Boat Commission and Game Commission. Aside from participating in traditional camp activities like swimming and outdoor sports, cadets learn how to safely ride a motorcycle and shoot rifles. They practice archery and participate in self-defense courses.

“They also have speakers who come in and talk to [the kids] about domestic violence, or they might focus on internet safety during girls week,” White says. “There’s just some things that are better to discuss in a law enforcement atmosphere.”

Girls week at the camp, which is held at Camp Blue Diamond in Petersburg, began last Sunday and wrapped up Saturday. Boys week starts today and ends Aug. 10. Each week will conclude with a graduation ceremony where local officials will present cadets with certificates, awards and trophies.

But it’s not all fun and games. Cadets experience a military-like atmosphere during the week. They wake up at 7 a.m., do physical training for an hour, and have barracks inspections. White, whose daughter attended a similar camp in Clinton County, says parents will be surprised when their children come back from camp.

“She came home and it was, ‘Yes, sir’ and, ‘Yes, ma'am’ to my husband and I,” she says. “That lasted for a while.”

Most importantly, White says, the camp gets children out of their comfort zones.

“It teaches them to push themselves because there are some things that they might think they can and can’t do,” she says. “There’s a rope course and a zipline. They get to do things that they might not ordinarily get to do and it makes them feel good about what they accomplished.”

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Shawn Christ is a recent Penn State graduate who is working as an intern for
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