Summer camps have begun throughout Lincoln County. Throughout the week, members of the Lincolnton Police Department, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Lincolnton Fire Department, Lincoln County Emergency Management and other area organizations joined together to help children learn a bit about their jobs. This is the fourth year that the Lincolnton Police Department has offered its Law Enforcement Action Development (LEAD) Camp.
This camp is designed as an outreach program to help boys and girls, who are in the fifth and sixth grades, become more aware of law enforcement functions. While children who might have an interest in law enforcement would want to attend the camp, it was also an opportunity to reach out to at-risk children. There is no fee to attend this camp, it is covered under the Lincolnton Police Department’s crime prevention budget. Breakfast, lunch and snacks were provided each day.
“We want to teach leadership, being a team member and being able to make good, responsible decisions,” said Lincolnton Police Department patrol officer Michael Reep, who is also the student resource officer for Lincolnton High School. “We had 18 children sign up this year. On the first day of camp, the kids made up the rules and what the consequences would be if they were broken so it wasn’t dictated to them. We want them to have fun and enjoy themselves but they need to understand they have to have rules.”
The camp ran for the entire week from 8 a.m. until around 4:30 p.m. at Betty G. Ross Park in Lincolnton. Each day, volunteers from area organizations conducted mini-seminars for the camp attendees. The daily activities included physical fitness segments as well as free swim time in the pool at the park at the end of the day. Homework assignments were given each day, which included feedback on what the campers liked and learned during the day.
“Some of these kids go to school with each other but there’s a lot that don’t know each other,” Reep said. “One may be from G.E. Massey, one from Battleground and another from S. Ray Lowder. They get to make new friends and when they all get over to middle school together, it might help them there because they know someone else.”
Some of the programs included crime scene investigation, gun safety, cyber safety, a tour of both the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, including the detention center, and Lincoln County Emergency Medical Services, K-9 demonstrations and a self-defense class.
“Because I work for the community services division at the police department and also in my role as a SRO, I want the kids to know that we’re all here to help them, that includes all public safety members,” Reep said. “These kids that are out here and they see the officers, some in uniforms and some not, and they’re having fun, talking to them and playing games with them. It lets them know that we’re approachable and not to be scared of us. It’s worked, sometimes I go into the elementary schools and sometimes just out in the public and some of the kids that went through the program before call out to me, ‘hey Officer Reep’.”