Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

June 14, 2013

Sheriff’s camp offers unique opportunities

Brent Brown
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Summer camp, in any of its forms, is often seen as its own sort of rite of passage for kids across America.

And though the well-trodden and typical tropes of those camps are likely quite familiar to anyone who’s spent a summer day swimming and hiking among new friends, no camp would be complete without surprises.

The 2013 iteration of the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association’s Youth Leadership Camp is bound to offer a bevy of its own unexpected fun, and the seventh and eighth grade students who attend usually come home with new skills and more than a few stories to tell. Perhaps more than anything else, they also gain insight into the people behind the badges of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department.

“That’s the big thing for me,” said Deputy Tony Blodgett, a three-year veteran of the DCSD who will be taking part in the camp for the first time when it kicks off in Brown County July 9. “They (the campers) get to interact with us outside of an official capacity.”

Those interactions will involve all manner of recreational activities, from marching to team sports to navigating obstacle courses. Each task is designed to positively impact the boys and girls of the camp, helping them gain leadership skills while forging camaraderie and cooperation among the participants. Past events have offered opportunities for learning defensive tactics and the dangers of impaired driving — among myriad other activities — under the guidance of some of those individuals in the community most qualified to teach such things.

“It helps teach the kids leadership and gives them an idea of what we do as police officers,” Blodgett said of the camp’s itinerary.

Blodgett’s son Kyle, 13, attended the camp last year and came home offering a ringing endorsement for the opportunity. Those sentiments were echoed by Kyle’s friends who attended as well.

Deputy Blodgett will make his first visit to the camp accompanied by fellow Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Henderson, who has participated in the camp for several years. Henderson said last year’s camp served approximately 70 to 80 youths overall. This year, the Greensburg Kiwanis Club is sponsoring six students on the trip while the Greensburg Fraternal Order of Police is sponsoring an additional four students.

The cost for each child to attend the three-day camp is $25. Transportation to the location of the event, Waycross Episcopal Camp in Morgantown, will be provided by Deputies Henderson and Blodgett. Students will register for the camp from 8 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 9. The program will conclude with closing ceremonies at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 11. Parents are expected to pick up their children on the final day of the camp, which will showcase a program by the students exhibiting the skills they’ve acquired since the leadership camp began. A dinner will also be provided during an awards ceremony at that time.

Henderson told the Daily News he hopes to see the program grow in the future, adding more attendees each year. The deputy has been integral in recruiting civic groups for child sponsorships in the program and has been one of the camp’s most active proponents.

The ability to interact with students on a personal level while teaching them skills they’ll carry for a lifetime are two of the many aspects of the camp enjoyed by Deputy Henderson.

“It’s a chance to see us (police officers) outside of a call for service,” Henderson noted. “They can understand a little more about how we do things.”

Decatur County Sheriff Greg Allen applauded the efforts of Deputies Henderson and Blodgett and called the Youth Leadership Camp “a neat experience.”

“They (the students) will learn what a deputy’s job consists of,” Sheriff Allen added. “They learn the camaraderie and discipline it takes to be in law enforcement.”

Students interested in signing up for the 2013 Indiana Sheriffs’ Association Youth Leadership Camp’s Southern Session can pick up forms at the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department or at the front counter in the Daily News office.

Completed applications should be returned to the Sheriff’s Department, care of Dave Henderson, by July 1.