Share This Page

Troopers hope to build bridges with youngsters through Camp Cadet

| Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 7:21 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
State Trooper Bret Kahler speaks to a group of about 50 Cadets during the 39th annual Armstrong Camp Cadet held at Lenape Technical School in Manor. Monday July 22, 2013
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
State Trooper Bret Kahler, a K-9 officer from the Somerset station, shows off his dog 'Kubko' a Belgian malinois, while visiting Camp Cadet at Lenape Tech. Monday July 22, 2013

MANOR — A group of 50 teens plans to call Lenape Technical School home for the week during their stay at the Pennsylvania State Police's Camp Cadet.

The weeklong summer camp, in its 39th year in Armstrong County, familiarizes students, ages 12 to 15, with police operations, physical fitness and teamwork, said Trooper Al Santucci, Camp Cadet director.

“Our regimine mimmicks what we go through at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy,” Santucci said.

The campers stay at Lenape Tech for the week, participate in morning fitness activities and lectures on police procedures, and take part in special programming, which includes a trip to a shooting range.

The program is sponsored by the state police but uses no tax dollars. Instead, it is funded through donations and fundraising efforts, and staffed by volunteers, Santucci said.

According to the Camp Cadet website, it costs $175 per student to attend the weeklong camp.

Santucci said volunteers work with each of the campers in hopes of building their self-esteem and confidence.

“When kids come to the camp, they're apprehensive, unsure of themselves and don't know if they can do things we are asking them to do,” Santucci said. “But we push them to do their best to perservere and overcome their fears.”

Volunteers Steve Levcik and Jim Stewart, both of Ford City, began volunteering at the camp during its inaugural run in 1974.

Levcik said most kids coming into the camp show some level of apprehension around police officers, which is eased by their interactions with the troopers during Camp Cadet.

“We try to teach kids a lot of discipline and give them perspective on law enforcement,” Levcik said. “We just want them to know the police are their friends and are there to help them, which is why Camp Cadet was started in the first place.”

Levcik said he believes the camp makes a difference in each of its campers' lives, often helping them mature.

“We give them a lot of work and things to do, and you see them come in as boys and girls but leave as young men and young ladies,” Levcik said. “It's only a week, but seeing that transformation is really rewarding.”

Camp Cadet's graduation ceremony is at 7 p.m. Friday at Lenape Tech.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.