Beaufort County PAL conducts first camp

Published 6:29 pm Saturday, July 28, 2012

Basketball was part of the PAL camp activities. Among the adults overseeing the camp and basketball activity were (from left) Stacy Drakeford, director of police and fire services in Washington; Washington police officer Aaron Mobley, volunteer Derrick Powell and basketball coach/PAL staff member James Gaynor. (Submitted photo)

The newly formed Beaufort County Police Activities League’s first camp for area children was held the week of July 16-20.

Part of the camp was held at the Hildred T. Moore Aquatics and Fitness Center in Washington. Other components were held at the New Bern airport.

The camp was collaboration between the City of Washington, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, Washington Housing Authority, the Beaufort County Boys & Girls Club, Washington police and fire-rescue-EMS departments and the U.S. Marine Corps. Camp activities included a trip to the Marines Corps’ New River Air Station, two USMC CH-53E helicopters landing in front of camp participants in New Bern and camp participants talking with flight crews.

The camp had several purposes, including the following:

  • provide the newly formed Beaufort County PAL with exposure to the Beaufort County community;
  • afford 17 to 20 youths (sixth- to ninth-graders from the Washington, NC area) critical exposure to first-responder-type careers in law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medical service occupations, aviation, technology and the Marine Corps to convince them to stay in school;
  • have the Coast Guard Auxiliary address boating safety;
  • improve the relationship and communication between youth and law-enforcement agencies;
  • have professionals from the medical and engineering fields talk about the value of education;
  • discuss education, not being afraid to dream and plan, life skills and the impact of poor decision making on the youths’ futures.

Camp sponsors included Lee Chevrolet, Gregory Poole’s Washington site, OT Plus Inc. Rehab Services, First Bank, Office Depot, Down East Rods and Classics, Engraver’s World and Apparel and Kingdom Kids Academy. Park Boats provided static displays that were utilized by the Coast Guard Auxiliary for training in boat safety.

Alvin Powell, a retired FBI agent and a law-enforcement instructor at Beaufort County Community College, is among those who led the effort to form the local PAL. A PAL is an extension of a local law-enforcement agency (police department, sheriff’s office) that is set up as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization whose mission is to provide young people ages 14 through 18 who live within its jurisdiction a way to interact with the law-enforcement community through after-school sports, mentoring, tutoring, cultural development and life-skills programs, Powell explained earlier this year.