Camp COPS aims to give middle schoolers lessons on drug, alcohol abuse this summer

Week of activity to mix fun, police point of view

May 30, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Carroll County kids -- the first 100 who sign up -- will have the opportunity to learn about drug and alcohol abuse from a police perspective this summer at Camp COPS.

The free program, set for July 12-16 at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster, aims to provide soon-to-be seventh-graders a healthy dose of physical activity within a police-academy atmosphere, says Tfc. Wendy Bernhardt, camp director.

COPS -- Courage to be Outstanding with Pride and Self-confidence -- places emphasis on self-discipline and teamwork. It also teaches first aid and self-defense and underscores the harmful effects and consequences of abusing drugs and alcohol -- something campers learned in the sixth-grade DARE (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) program.

Bernhardt, who spent a week last summer working at a COPS camp in Calvert County, said, "I saw the effect it had on teaching the kids. It doesn't talk down to the campers but allows them to get a view of reality from our [police] perspective."

Bernhardt said campers witness a simulated drunken driving traffic stop and then become the jury in a simulated trial.

Campers also will play the roles of police officers who respond to a missing-person report, and will have to interview family and friends of the missing person, Bernhardt said. In the simulated case, campers will learn about a young person who got involved with drugs and is missing, Bernhardt said. They will see and hear firsthand how it affects the family and the community.

For this first camp endeavor in Carroll County, enrollment is limited.

"We'll see how it goes, and maybe we can have twice as many next year," Bernhardt said.

Sponsored by Residents Attacking Drugs, a Westminster-based group that developed after the overdose deaths last year of several teen-agers, the camp will be free.

Bernhardt said Cpl. Mike Bible, the DARE officer for the Westminster Police, and Cpl. Tim Schaeffer of the Carroll County sheriff's office will assist as camp counselors.

"We will use hourlong segments and work in light-hearted volleyball competition and law-enforcement and emergency-services demonstrations," she said.

At the end of the fifth day, parents will be invited to watch the campers show off some of the skills they learned.

Camp applications for sixth-graders who have completed the DARE program this year are available at county schools, state police barracks and the Westminster police station. The registration deadline is June 15.

Pub Date: 5/30/99

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