The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office successfully held another year full of learning during the Junior Deputy Camp for 115 campers, ages 5 through 12. The week-long camp allows campers to meet law enforcement personnel and learn safety information while having an opportunity to attend camp. BCSO Deputy and Camp Coordinator Stacy Lewis said not every family can afford to place their children in summer camps costing $100 or more.
“We teach them all about the community, what we do, how we do our job and what we do to help them,” Lewis said. “It’s important that they’re comfortable with us [with our uniforms on] because we’re not scary people. It helps these kids to know that I’m not the person that they have to be scared of; I’m here to help them feel safe.”
After working 10 years in law enforcement and as a camp director, Lewis said good-bye to her little campers before turning in her badge Friday as her family prepares to move to South Carolina this summer.
“It’s been great, and it has been very bitter sweet. It’s a lot to give up ’cause these kids are mine just as much as they are to the community. I’m going to miss them a lot,” she said while teary-eyed. “This is an important program to the sheriff, and it will hopefully continue to run long after I’m gone.”
The children learned about the importance of fire safety, alligator safety and ATV and boat safety through presentations given by the Baldwin County Fire Rescue, Smokey the Bear, the Georgia Forestry Commission and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Oconee Regional Medical Center volunteers also demonstrated CPR and the Baldwin County 9-1-1 Center taught the campers appropriate times to place a 9-1-1 call.
“You roll out of the bed and crawl,” 4-year-old Anna Lewis said when asked what to do if a house catches on fire.
Jill Sherwood, mother of two campers, recommends the Junior Deputy Camp to all families.
“The kids learn a lot about safety skills and life skills,” she said. “It’s just a very good program.”
When the usual camp location at Sallie Davis Academy became unavailable this year, Calvin McMullen and his Community Life Baptist Church congregation offered their facility to the junior deputies, formerly known as Boddie Middle School.
“We’ve always wanted to partner with the community and it was the light for us to do so. I’m glad we were able to do it because it’s a positive for the community and the kids,” McMullen said. “To be able to introduce these great activities to them, they get a different image of the Sheriff’s [Office] and they become a friend of the law enforcement and that’s a pro. It’s a great opportunity with great activities.”
The camp concluded with a field day Friday, where children jumped around in a bounce house, were sprayed water from a Baldwin County Fire Rescue vehicle and filled their tummies with grilled hot-dogs.
“The kids love seeing the resources that Baldwin County has to offer,” Camp Teacher Sonya Murray said. “They see [law enforcement] more as friends and [people] that care about them. I always recommend this camp to parents.”