Kids Go Camping With Sheriff's Deputies

August 11, 2011 Updated Aug 11, 2011 at 7:31 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

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August 11, 2011 Updated Aug 11, 2011 at 7:31 PM EDT

(WKBW)
Elma, NY
It is an unlikely partnership. A group of 25 teenagers on a five day camping trip with Erie County Sheriff's deputies as their camp counselors.

"It's a great opportunity for the youth to see that the officers are people underneath the badge," said Marc Rummenie, Program Director for the National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York."

But those badges were checked at the gate once the deputies arrived at Camp Centerland in Elma.

"They're playing games with the kids they're talking with the kids one-on-one, learning their stories, sharing their own stories about their families," said Rummenie.

Retreats like these have been going on for almost 30 years sponsored by the National Federation for Just Communities of Western New York.

The students are hand picked from a dozen schools across the region based on their leadership skills. The program is aimed at breaking down negative stereotypes law enforcement officers may have of young people and that the teens may have towards the officers.

"We can all think back to when we were teenagers, and you know our fondness to police officers," commented Rummenie.

But through a series of interactive demonstrations including K-9 drills, underwater rescue and bomb threat operations the kids will hopefully walk away with a better understanding of the risk and responsibility associated with the badge.

"It's working with the kids to understand the commitment that the law enforcement has to the community, to our safety, to our betterment, and ways that we can work together to make this a better community for everybody," said Rummenie.