This month, incoming fourth through eighth grade students from Olive Branch, Pleasant Hill, Lewisburg, Center Hill and DeSoto Central will gather for the Olive Branch Police Department’s 13th annual Camp B.U.I.L.D., a free summer camp designed to build positive character traits in students.
The camp, which will take place at Olive Branch Middle School at 6530 Blocker Street, began June 3 and will run through June 28 from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. every weekday.
Camp B.U.I.L.D. stands for Body, Unity, Inner self, Leadership and Development, the character traits that the OBPD hopes to nurture this summer. Various activities have been planned to support each trait and keep the students active throughout the day. Students will participate in games and physical activities throughout the day to promote physical health. They will also break off into different groups throughout the day to talk about topics such as teamwork, self-esteem, character, leadership and personal conduct skills. OBPD Lt. James Woods and Officer Henry Minor will be providing the instruction.
"Camp B.U.I.L.D. was a dream and a vision by our chief, Chief Don Gammage, to develop a program that would give our kids the tools that they need and the building blocks that they need to become our future civic leaders and community leaders,” said Major William Cox, leader of OBPD’s criminal investigations division and the department’s public relations and community outreach coordinator. “It was a goal of his many years back to get that accomplished, and we're proud to be in the 13th year of Camp B.U.I.L.D. We're able to do this through the kind sponsorship of many businesses in the area that allow us to be able to put this camp on each summer."
Cox said that this camp is one of the OBPD’s main community outreach programs and is excited about the program’s benefits to the community and to the participating students, who are able to learn character-building skills from positive role models.
"These are the students that are going to be, as they grow older, our community leaders, they're going to be our civic leaders, they're going to be the people who take over the reins from us as we retire and move on,” said Cox. “So we want to make sure that these young people are learning the things that they need to be the leaders of tomorrow."
Another goal of the camp, said Cox, is to reinforce a positive image of the OBPD. Cox noted that people are more likely to listen to their relatives and neighbors and that events like this can help bridge the gap between the department and the community. The camp, like the Citizens’ Police Academy that is offered to adults, is another way of reaching law-enforcement goals.
“It gives us the opportunity to show people the heart behind the badge,” said Cox. “We’re not just robots in suits. We live here with everyone else… I’m thankful to be a part of this program.”
Some of the activities planned for the camp include Wet Water Wednesday, Movie Friday, kickball and basketball. The final week will include a Field Day, a parade to city hall, graduation on June 27 and a cookout on June 28. Along with the activities and lessons, campers will receive a free t-shirt, snacks and drinks.
Brent Walker is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.