Camp reaches out to at-risk kids

    Gaining the strength and confidence to climb a rock wall in the parking lot of the Hockessin PAL center is just one of the things keeping day campers like 9 year old Kennedy Brown busy.

    Gaining the strength and confidence to climb a rock wall in the parking lot of the Hockessin PAL center is just one of the things keeping day campers like 9 year old Kennedy Brown busy.

    Listen:
    [audio: /delaware/090804sacamp.mp3]

    Kennedy is one of 40 kids invited to the Delaware Army National Guard’s week long camp, because she lives in one of Wilmington’s most crime ridden neighborhoods.

    “My mom won’t let me go outside any more because of what’s going on,” Kennedy Brown said. “Strangers try to give you drugs.”

    Kids like Kennedy are identified with the help of the Department of Justice’s Weed and Seed Program.  Major Kevin Conley with the Delaware Army National Guard’s counter drug task force runs the camp.

    “A lot of these kids, during the school year their escape is going to school,” Conley said. “So in the summertime if you don’t have that escape, what is your escape? So here we are providing a week-long escape so they can feel like they’re really part of something.”

    And while the kids were attending camp outside, an anti-violence roundtable discussion was also underway inside the PAL center hosted by Delaware Congressman Mike Castle.

    “I believe that one of the most important ways to reduce crime in the long run is to invest in prevention-based strategies that can address the cycle of violence by reaching at risk youth before they become involved in dangerous activities,” Castle said.

    Among the 14 Delaware law enforcement and community leaders attending, was Wilmington Mayor James Baker. He  heads up a city that saw it’s deadliest year in 2008 with 25 homicides.

    “Having young people a little older than they are dealing with them and some of their problems they have, it’s a necessity because they might not get that elsewhere,” Baker said.

    Meantime the camp organizers will make the most of the week they have to try and stop the drug and violence cycle, one kid at a time.

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