Camp brings youth and authority together

School Resource Officer Matt Mayo engages in a water fight Tuesday with Arkansas City Middle School students at Camp Quaker Haven. Students and officers participate in a week-long D.A.R.E. event, that addresses issues faced by students, and allows them to interact with law enforcement officers. The camp program is held each August.

More than 125 Arkansas City Middle School students are participating in a special Drug Abuse Resistance Program (D.A.R.E.) at Camp Quaker Haven this week. School Resource Officer Matt Mayo said the program serves as a means to educate students on important issues, and allow students to interact with local authority figures in a positive way.

“It’s just something to get us interacting with the kids, have fun with them and show that we’re more than just uniforms,” he said. 

Students learned about drugs, and the harmful effects of vaping and smoking on Monday. Mayo said the different educational sessions are designed to address the issues that many middle school students face today. He said ventriloquist Keven Horner visited the camp Tuesday to talk about bullying. 

“He actually did a lesson with his puppets just to make it fun and interactive for the students,” he said. 

Mayo said the Eagle Med helicopter has also visited the camp, and a trooper from the Kansas Highway Patrol brought a seat belt convincer device to demonstrate the importance of wearing seatbelts.

“The fire department is also coming out to do a brief course on CPR and fire extinguisher safety,” he said.

Mayo said the students arrive early each morning, are served breakfast, and then participate in a number of interactive learning activities. He said after lunch students are given the opportunity to cool off and interact with officers in the pool and on several inflatable water slides. 

“It’s not just the educational side, it’s to let them interact with us too,” he said.

Mayo said the five-day program is held at the campground each August, and is open to all middle school students in the USD 470 area. 

“They don’t have to go to Ark City Middle School,” he said. “Those who attend Sacred Heart, or Ark City Christian Academy are welcome to attend as well.”

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