Picayune Police Department runs annual summer camp

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 8, 2019

Local elementary aged children learned about bullying, went rock climbing and broke out their dance moves during the Picayune Police Department’s 17th annual summer camp this week.

The summer camp is put on through the Police Department and staffed with city employees and carefully vetted volunteers, said Theresa Milar, the camp coordinator. Fifteen-year-old youth helpers also assist in watching the kids, she said.

The camp gives kids an opportunity to interact with local police officers and city employees, Milar said.

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“We do not want them to be scared of us,” she said. “We want them to be comfortable with us, so if they’re in trouble they know where to go.”

The first year, the free summer camp only had 35 kids signed up, Milar said, but now 110 children attend between two camps held separate weeks. This year sign up for the camp was filled within 47 minutes, Milar said. This week was for seven to nine year olds and a week for 10 to 12 year olds will be held later in June, she said.

The kids listened to presentations about the dangers of smoking, the cost of bullying and the importance of dental hygiene, Milar said. The talk about bullying by Josh Braddy, a pastor at New Palestine Baptist Church, really engaged the kids, Milar said.

“These kids have never been so quiet in their life,” she said.

Braddy used an interactive activity and the metaphor of a rainstorm to help the kids understand the mental and emotional toll of bullying, she said.

The kids also made crafts, like anti-littering posters, and were kept entertained with games and dancing, Milar said.

The camp takes place at Picayune Junior High and the Picayune School District lets the summer camp use the bus system to take the children to activities like a visit to Big Play in Biloxi, Milar said. Local businesses, civic organizations and citizens can sponsor kids at the camp for $50, she said.

Since the children come from all over Pearl River County, the camp gives them an opportunity to meet new friends, Milar said, and some of the campers have parents who came to the summer camp 17 years ago.

Registration for the summer camp is always the second Monday in April at 8 a.m. in the Picayune Police Department, Milar said.