Learning life lessons while having fun this summer has brought about 100 Olive Branch youngsters together for the month of June to take part in Camp BUILD, an outreach of the city’s police department.
It is the 10th year for the four-week program, according to Capt. Jeff Abbott, who with Det. Carlos Wilson has helped put Camp BUILD together. The first day of camp was held at Olive Branch Intermediate School on Wednesday.
“The first weeks after school’s out, kids are looking for something to do and this is good for the kids and really good for us,” Abbott said. “You’ve got Vacation Bible School and you’ve got sports camps and everything else and this just kind of fit with all that.”
Abbott added that as the program has grown, so has the budget grown for Camp BUILD, but he said the effort is worth it to “build” character and a trust between the youth, who are from fourth-through-eighth grade and who all reside in Olive Branch.
“This gives them an opportunity to see what the police department is all about,” Abbott said. “It gives them a chance to interact with police officers and it gives them a chance to participate and teach them how to be future leaders. If any kid has an interest in being a community leader, being a part of the police department or serving their community, this would be a big draw, I think.”
The name Camp BUILD has significance for the things being taught during the camp. The acronym BUILD stands for (B)ody, (U)nity, (I)nner self, (L)eadership, and (D)evelopment.
Time is being spent on building a healthy body, teamwork and working together, self qualities, happiness and awareness, learning how to encourage team members to work together and in developing personal conduct skills.
Activities will also include time addressing issues that touch youth in particular, including bullying.
“Healing Hearts, our child advocacy center, is going to come in and do a presentation on bullying,” Abbott said. “This is the second year that they have been out to help us on that.”
But Abbott said there will also be time for fun and games at Camp BUILD.
There will be Wet Wednesdays and Movie Fridays. Kickball and basketball games are planned. The final week of the camp has been named Fun Week and will feature a field day at Olive Branch High School or at the Soccer Complex on Church Road, a parade to City Hall, a cookout and graduation on June 30.
The youngsters taking part in Camp BUILD learned about the free summer program through their schools as the school year ended, needing only to fill out an application form, which they and their parents were required to sign. Once selected, the campers were informed of their selection by one of the camp instructors about a week ago.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.