Chris Jones: Greene Publishing, Inc.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) held its sixth annual Youth Adventure Camp, from June 19th through June 23rd. Fifty-two children and youth attended the camp, which ran from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day. According to MCSO Sheriff Ben Stewart, the vision for the summer camp is to share a sense of adventure with boys and girls between the ages of nine and 17, who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience some of the activities offered. MCSO Personnel facilitated and instructed the camp sessions, including swimming, kayaking, fishing, knot-tying, rappelling, defense tactics, confidence building, archery, firearms safety and marksmanship, compass reading, land-navigation, emergency preparedness, and a slew of other interactive games and activities.
The camp included faith-based, mini-leadership training sessions that encouraged teamwork, structure, love, and discipline. The camp provided demonstrations and hands-on teaching by the MCSO and local public safety partners, featuring K-9 demonstrations and tracking, knife building, fire safety, wildlife familiarization and management. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) educated campers on Florida wildlife, and even had an alligator for the children to hold. Lieutenant Lee Majors with the Leon County Sheriff's Office flew one of their Bell 206 JetRanger helicopters from Leon County to the property of Madison resident Jeff Bloodsworth, providing a unique static display of law enforcement aviation.
Campers had the opportunity to not only learn about firearms safety, but put those skills to use, shooting .22 rifles at the MCSO firing range. Campers got a chance to cool off from the summer heat on a huge slip 'n slide. In between more serious sessions, campers had fun throwing a football, playing corn hole, and watching Sgt. Jarrod Lauth get tasered.
The Youth Adventure Camp is free to participants and is funded, in part, through the Sheriff’s Office's concealed-carry class, and both private and business donations. Participants were photographed and received their own ID card, as well as a tee-shirt.
MCSO Major David Harper viewed the sixth annual camp as a monumental success. “We had an amazing week with an incredible group of kids! There were many returning campers along with several new faces. I'd like to thank our many sponsors who helped make our sixth annual camp possible, members of our community who have a vested interest in our youth, the staff who selflessly volunteered their time and energy, parents who shared their children with us and, most of all, the campers who participated this year. One of the main goals of the camp is to challenge and encourage the campers with activities that instill courage, respect and discipline. To see the transformation that takes place during the week is a reminder of what is truly important. This camp has always been about the kids but I promise the staff gets just as much out of it, if not more,” said Harper.
Parents or guardians wishing to inquire about the camp, and anyone wishing to sponsor a meal or activity, or to donate to next year's camp, can contact Tammy Tuten, at the Madison County Sheriff’s Administrative Office, by calling (850) 973-4151.