Camp Cadet: Helping self-esteem and leadership skills

Week-long summer camp run by volunteer law-enforcement officers

By Joy Purdy - 5:30, 6:30 & 11 p.m. anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - We all want our children to succeed, and we'll do everything we can to give them the tools they need to do so.

That's the goal of Northeast Florida Camp Cadet; a tuition-free, week-long camp for boys and girls ages 12 through 15.

Camp Cadet is designed to teach your kids about leadership, teamwork, discipline and courage.

Because of the unique camp's design -- a mini version of a basic police training academy -- it's sometimes mistaken for a boot camp for troubled youth.

Green Cover Springs Police Department Officer Kimberly Robinson, director of Camp Cadet,   -- "Just ask the kids who've attended and graduated from Camp Cadet," she tells us confidently.

So we did.

14-year-old Scout Chaires has a 4-point-6-2-5 GPA at Hillard Middle Senior High School.

For college, she wants to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point and become an orthopedic surgeon.

Thanks to a little confidence-boosting at Camp Cadet, Scout says she now has the leadership qualities to attack any of life's obstacle.

"It made me realize how far I could really push myself and not limit myself to the capabilities that I have mentally," she eloquently explains, "but instead push through the barriers."

Scout says the camp was tough; waking up at 5 a.m. for mile-long runs and completing PT (physical training) in the wet grass along with team building exercises.

She had no contact with her family the entire week; difficult at first, but so worth it in the end she tells us.

"Near the end of the week, I was so happy that I did it," she says, breaking out in a smile. "I've never been so satisfied with myself."

University Christian School senior Hunter Bass will join The Morning Show on Thursday (March 6) during the 8 a.m. hour to share his experience as a cadet, and then as a Junior Counselor at Camp Cadet.

This year, he'll be a full-fledged Camp Cadet Counselor.

From gaining a better understand of law enforcement training and responsibilities, to making new friends and celebrating fellow cadets' accomplishments, both Scout and Hunter say their experience at the camp will have them coming back as volunteers to help other young people gain self-esteem and leadership skills.

Camp Cadet is accepting applications now, for the week-long camp which begins on Father's Day (June 15).

Tonight, Channel 4 is making it easy for you to apply over the phone.

During our 5 - 7 p.m. Newscasts, we're teaming up with Camp Cadet.

That's when uniformed officers will be in our studio, answering your calls and questions about the camp.  You can also apply for Camp Cadet over the phone.

In addition, the officers will have information available about any other child-related resources you might need.  Questions like:
* How do we get an officer to come to our child's school to talk to his class?
* My child is depressed. Where in my county can I get help for him/her?
* My neighbor's children always look like they have no clothes to wear and not enough food. Is there a place I can suggest for them to turn to for help?

Tune in tonight for the number to call.

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