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Camp Cadet generations

| Wednesday, July 23, 2008

MANOR -- Making his younger brother Tyler do push-ups at the Pennsylvania State Police-sponsored Armstrong County Camp Cadet was tempting for junior counselor Tom Dubovi Jr.

"It was on my mind," Tom said grinning. "But I wouldn't treat him any different than the other cadets. He's disciplined anyway. He's not the type to have to do a lot of push-ups."

Tyler wasn't thinking about push-ups, or worrying about his brother, when he decided to attend Camp Cadet.

"I've always wanted to come to Camp Cadet," Tyler said. "I came when my brother was a camper. I liked how they bring things in like the K-9 unit and the bomb squad and show you what they do. Camp is hard work, discipline and a lot of fun. If somebody is acting up, they'll be down doing push-ups in no time."

Tyler, 12, and Tom Jr., 15, are the sons of Lt. Tom Dubovi Sr., commander of the state police station in East Franklin.

They're not the only members of state police trooper families attending the annual summer camp for 12-year-old to 15-year-old boys and girls who are interested in law enforcement being held from Sunday to Friday this week at the Lenape Technical School in Manor.

Five of this year's 59 cadet campers and seven members of the junior counselor staff are sons or daughters of troopers.

The other campers are Jared Kapustik, son of Trooper Michael Kapustik; Kayleigh Vetovich, daughter of Trooper Ron Vetovich; Matthias Botti, son of Trooper Steve Liston and Connor Blose, son of Cpl. Michael Bramlet.

Junior counselors include Michelle and Natalie Yanoff, daughters of Cpl. Chris Yanoff; Nate Santucci, son of Trooper Al Santucci, the camp's director; and Christopher, Brendon and Kendall Ignatz, sons of Lt. Steve Ignatz.

Naval Academy student Kendall Ignatz took a special leave from duty on an aircraft carrier to come back as a counselor at the camp.

"Kendall uses a lot of what he picked up here at camp at the Naval Academy," Steve Ignatz said. "Camp is something he talks about all the time. He's anxious to get to camp. He's been coming to camp since he was little."

Not an official camper yet, Nina "Dotty" Santucci, 8, joined her brother and dad for her third time at the camp. She helped by making a poster on working hard for the campers.

"Typically there are one or two kids of troopers at a camp," said Tom Dubovi Sr. "There's a large group this year at the same age. It's exciting to know they have an interest in seeing what we do and what our jobs entail. My older son came back as a counselor because he enjoys the environment and liked the experience. He knows if you want to get somewhere, you have to work hard. That's instilled at the camp."

"It's great here," Tom Dubovi Jr. said. "I love the people. I love helping the staff out."

Camp Cadet is structured similar to the training given at the police academy. The camp is held at locations across the state and is conducted by a staff of state police troopers, local police officers and volunteers.

The Armstrong County camp was started in 1975. The camp focuses on discipline, self-esteem, character strengthening, responsibility, teamwork, physical training, drug-and-alcohol education and violence prevention, camp officials said.

Cadets see the criminal justice system in action, learn about law-enforcement careers and develop positive attitudes toward law-enforcement professionals.

The campers learn about law enforcement-related activities such as explosives safety, computer crime, firearm safety and forensics, visit agencies and individuals associated with the criminal justice system and do a rigorous routine of close order drill exercises, obstacle courses, running and exercise.

They get a close-up look at helicopters and patrol cars, go swimming, participate in intersquad competition and end the week with a graduation in front of their families.

"I want to work hard at camp to make them impressed," said 12-year-old camper Kayleigh Vetovich. "I enjoy it. You always have to work harder because you can always get better at something."

Al Santucci said the sons and daughters of troopers are not treated any differently than the other campers.

"They seem to do whatever is expected of them," Al Santucci said. "They go with the program. They're just another individual in the program."

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