Some area youths are spending their summer vacation with law enforcement, not because they have done anything wrong, but because law enforcement wants them to be successful.

Twenty-three youth between the ages of 10 and 13 are taking part in the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety’s summer youth camp, Mentoring Matters.

The camp, which began June 12 and ends July 17, is a six-week camp designed to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.

“We strongly believe that it takes a village,” Cpl. Devon Gilmore said. “We want to establish positive relationships so they can see us in a positive light, and we want to focus on them because they are our future.”

Officers are also focusing on providing campers with the tools they need to become good citizens. Providing mentorship opportunities can help decrease the risk of youth becoming involved in unsafe activities, Sgt. Deloris Edmonds said.

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“We believe the programs we are offering aid these youths to help them reach their full potential, while preparing them for various challenges,” she said. “

Some of the topics being covered include peer pressure, bullying and self-esteem.

Campers are on-site two days during the week, and they go on field trips one day during the week. So far, they have visited the S.C. State Museum and Eudora Farms.

Campers have also toured ODPS, met the Judge Virgin Johnson and learned the importance of making a first impression.

“We are seeing that some of our participants who might have been afraid of law enforcement before have a better understanding of what we are here for,” Edmonds said. “We want them to understand that we want to be their friend and put them on a positive path.”

Applications will be available beginning Aug.1 for Rose Academy, which is a program for 14- to 16-year-olds. Applications will be available at ODPS Headquarters, 1320 Middleton St.

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