K-9 goes to campPublished 7:03pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Children attending Washington Therapy Center’s summer camp got a special treat Wednesday when a canine with special skills rousted them in a game of hide and seek.
Officers with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit paid a camp visit with K-9 Elza, the unit’s drug detection dog, to teach special needs children a bit about safety.
“We wanted the kids to learn more about the sheriff’s office, stranger danger, saying no to drugs and, of course, that the police are here to protect us,” said Ashley Chase, office manager for Washington Therapy Center.
What the children found was that no matter where they tried to hide one of Elza’s training toys, she would find it. The eight camp attendees, along with a few guests, quickly learned that when it comes to sniffing out the goods, Elza has one highly trained nose.
Chase said the program including Elza was just one event in a series during the 4-week long camp where kids have learned about farm life, celebrated America’s birthday and studied all things bug. However, the visit from sheriff’s office deputies gave the children an opportunity, with the buffer of Elza, to establish a level of comfort with law enforcement.
“We wanted them to feel comfortable with police — to know that they’re here to help,” Chase said.
While Washington Therapy Center’s usual business is speech and occupational therapy, owners Kathy and James Gaynor have reached out to local special needs children, inviting them to attend their regularly offered day camps. The eight children enrolled in the camp were sponsored by individual donors so that parents would not have to bear the financial burden.
“A lot of kids we see are on a limited income and they wouldn’t have been able to come otherwise,” Chase explained. “We’ve really been proud of this camp. It gives them a place to come to, to learn and have a fun time.”
Chase said Washington Therapy is intending to hold another weeklong camp just before school starts again in August.