ATHENS, Ala. - Limestone County deputies and investigators spent the week as camp counselors for the agency's first youth mentor camp.
Spokesman Stephen Young developed the program. With the help of area school resource officers and counselors, students were picked for the free program.
"A lot of these that come to this day camp probably don't have the opportunity to go to a camp," said Sheriff Mike Blakely.
Each day featured a theme that included hands-on games that taught or reinforced important skills, then the agency would demonstrate from a law enforcement perspective. For example, on teamwork day, kids had to work together, learning each other's strengths, to accomplish goals. Then, to reinforce the importance of teamwork, the LCSO brought in equipment and other agencies to show how they work together.
"Teamwork is key, it can be life or death," said Young. "We've got the EMA (Emergency Management Agency) 911 Instant Command Center out here, we've got the K-9 from the state prison here, East Limestone Fire Department brought their smoke trailer and equipment out to show the kids."
The sheriff and other leaders had presentations for the kids. On Friday, they had a guest speaker, quarterback Chadarius Townsend, a junior at Tanner High School and University of Alabama commit.
"I just love hanging out with them," said Townsend. "I want to help them out, really, I don't want them to go on the wrong path."
Leaders say it not only lets them mentor area kids, but helps construct a relationship between deputies and the community.
"Our volunteers and employees that are working here are having a great time here," said Young. "They're learning just as much as the kids are."
He adds that the kids get to learn about the men and women behind the badge.
"In law enforcement, you’ve got to be a partner with the community," said Sheriff Blakely.
The sheriff says he will definitely continue the program and hopes to expand it next year.