PAL, 4-H providing day camp

Published 7:31 pm Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Beaufort County Police Activities League and Beaufort County 4-H will host a Joint Life Skill and Career Exposure Summer Day Camp in July.

The day camp will be headquartered at the Beaufort County Cooperative Extension Center, 155A Airport Road, Washington. This building is located just past the McConnell Sports Complex. The camp, for students in the sixth through eighth grade, will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 16 through 27.

The cost per applicant is $20. A limited number of scholarships will be available for Washington Housing Authority residents. Contact the Washington Housing Authority at 252-946-0061 for more information on the scholarships.

Parents/guardians will be responsible for making daily transportation arrangements for participants to and from the camp. Activities will include sports such as swimming, basketball; field trips; airplane, helicopter, fire truck and classic-car static displays; instruction on how airplanes and helicopters fly; information on fitness, diet, social skills, technology and engineering careers; U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boat operations class; life skills; law-enforcement training; hobbies like classic-car ownership and much more.

Camp availability is limited to 30 participants. To register, fill out and submit a PAL registration form (see end of article for information on obtaining a form). A 4-H summer camp application also will need to be submitted. Call Erwin Massie, 252- 946-0111 for additional information.

The Beaufort County Police Activities League will consist of a historic collaboration between the police departments from Aurora, Belhaven, Chocowinity and Washington. Members of the participating police departments will work with retired law-enforcement officials and community volunteers to interact with youth in a neutral environment (conducting recreational activities, classroom and workshop sessions, field trips, guest speakers, and day camps) to improve the communication and public perception about law enforcement and juvenile-justice officials.

In addition, the Washington Department of Parks and Recreation and the Washington Housing Authority will be participating partners with the Beaufort County PAL program. Beaufort County Schools personnel support the program as well as the Washington City Council and City Manager, Josh Kay.

“The City of Washington is excited about the Police Activities League and its potential impact on the young people of Washington,” Kay said. “We look forward to working with the PAL in providing expanded opportunities for our youth and growing the relationship between the Washington police and fire departments and our community.”

PAL programs date back to the 1900s when the New York City Police Department, in an effort to improve the relationship between police officers and youth, started organizing sporting events between the police department and at-risk and minority youth. The program was an immediate success. Tensions decreased between the police department and the youth. The youth saw the police officers in a different and positive light. It was a win-win for everyone involved and now there are about 460 PAL programs in the United States. The Greenville Police Department has had a PAL chapter since 2008, and it is providing assistance in forming the Beaufort County PAL Chapter.

Program director for the Beaufort County PAL Program is Alvin Powell. Powell, who lives in Beaufort County, is a retired FBI supervisory special agent/chief of a FBI counterterrorism unit and former FBI pilot. He is also a certified police instructor in North Carolina.

Police chiefs from Aurora, Belhaven, Chocowinity and Washington will meet with Powell on Friday to sign an official membership application that will be submitted to the national PAL chapter headquarters for the Beaufort County PAL to become an official Police Athletic League member.

Powell said a Beaufort County PAL would create a proactive mechanism to prevent potential “powder-keg” situations from developing between law enforcement and the community, especially youth. The program will establish a communication infrastructure to help resolve misunderstandings and perceptions that law enforcement officials and the community might have about each other. Law-enforcement officials will be able to demonstrate their coaching, teaching and mentoring skills.

“Having a local PAL program will also demonstrate to potential industry and families looking to relocate that Beaufort County believes in a safe community and are willing to invest in the future of our youth regardless of race or gender,” Powell said.

Sponsorships and donations are needed. Contributions should be made out to Alvin D. Powell-PAL.

To obtain a registration form for the day camp or for more information about PAL, call Powell at 609-412-9743.