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G.R.E.A.T. summer camp teaches gang prevention

Posted June 16, 2008

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— Police hope that a two-week summer-camp experience will help around 100 children learn about the criminal justice system and how to deal with social pressures.

Campers at the G.R.E.A.T. Summer Camp visited a youth detention center and juvenile court to teach them about the tough realities of the justice system.

"Once you get involved in the court system, they aren't going to sugarcoat it, so we are trying not to either," Sgt. J.L. Jackson said.

The police department's Gang Resistance Education and Training unit started the camp as an extension of its program in schools. This year's two sessions in June and August are full, with youths 11 to 14 years old.

Five years ago, police added gang prevention to the camp's agenda. Officers said they had seen signs of gang activity among children as early as second grade.

"We try to give them alternatives to that early," Jackson said.

Camper Briana Snipes said she knows boys in gangs.

"If you want to get out, the people in a gang will either kill you or fight you to get out," Briana said.

Guest speakers gave campers lessons on character building, resisting gangs and avoiding drugs.

"We learned that you just say, 'no,' in a firm voice, and then you walk away," Briana said.

Campers also learned about the criminal justice system – law enforcement, courts, the penal system and "what the death penalty is and stuff like that," camper Michael Walkowe said.

Officers said they hope the campers learned about more than the technical aspects of the justice system and took home lessons about what can keep them out of trouble.

"I just know the consequences and things like that," Michael Walkowe said.

Campers also got to visit an IMAX theater, Marbles Kids Museum, historic Stagville and Falls Lake and do some traditional summer-camp activities – swimming, roller and ice skating, and bowling.

Briana said the camp has given her a vision of a different way things could be.

"It's just a lot of violence going around," Briana said. "I would like it better if there were no violence."

8 Comments

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  • bronzegoddess40 Jun 17, 11:14 a.m.

    It is so funny how most people are always complaining that something needs to be done about the gang problem etc and then when something is being done, everyone complains and says that it is a waste of money or time, they are not doing it right, they are not reaching out to the right folks etc.... My goodness what should they be doing? If anybody think that they can do it better, then maybe they need to come up with a solution that will work. I think that camp is great, it is a start to discouraging young children not to be involved in gangs that there are other things they need to be doing right now. It may not be perfect but it is a start.

  • Fredrick Bimmell Jun 17, 9:49 a.m.

    While I am very happy that organizations such as this exist ..... it seems that the individuals who really need training and informational programs are the parents. Until we stop blaming the media and music and get to the REAL problem ..... uninvolved parents ..... we will see nothing but an increase in gang involvement. Many if not most involved in gangs are searching for a since of belonging and acceptance .... the same things we all get from our families.

  • daMoFo Jun 17, 7:39 a.m.

    Desperate Housewives glorifies gangs and encourages kids to join gangs? Sure. I'm sure all the little thugs turn off their gangsta rap tv so they can watch Desperate Housewives.

  • OrdinaryCitizen Jun 16, 9:09 p.m.

    Wasted money IMO

  • hooptie1964 Jun 16, 6:59 p.m.

    I'm betting that the kids going to camp aren't the ones joining the gangs.

  • lrgic2broke Jun 16, 6:31 p.m.

    If the media cared about our youth, especially the ones in dysfunctional environments, good programs like this will produce positive outcomes. It is not only "gansta rap" that protrays violence and sex as cool. You have shows like The Sopranos, Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City, Country/Hip Hop/Rock music... Maybe, a parenting bootcamp or group therapy session with their children will provide a clearer picture to the parents about what the children experience on a daily basis, lack and desire to have in the home.

  • colliedave Jun 16, 6:14 p.m.

    and how is it supposed to end with most of the black-oriented media glorifying gansta-rap?

  • colliedave Jun 16, 6:12 p.m.

    what the death penalty is

    you mean supposed to be