POUGHKEEPSIE – Seven children ages nine to 12 years old left the parking lot of the Dutchess County Law Enforcement Center for a weeklong summer camp in upstate Penn Yann on Sunday. Dutchess County Sheriff Kirk Imperati called the camp “A tradition that we have had for years and we look forward to continuing it.”
The camp, operated by the New York State Sheriffs’ Institute, is on their property Keuka Lake in Yates County, the New York State Sheriffs’ Summer Camp is for boys and girls who, because of economic reasons, would not have an opportunity to attend a summer camp. Each County Sheriff is given a predetermined number of camper slots. The sheriffs use various methods to select the attendees. In Dutchess County, Imperati said that his School Resource Officers identify the eligible campers and give them an application to attend.
Dutchess County has historically attended during week five of the camp which runs for six weeks total, and has been run by the Institute for 36 years. In addition to the campers, most participating agencies send at least one deputy to the camp during their assigned week. This year, week five campers are from Dutchess, Columbia, Ulster, and Suffolk counties. The Institute sent a charter bus to the four counties, starting in Suffolk on Sunday to pick up the children. Imperati purchased boxed meals from a local resident for the kids to eat on their six-hour journey to the camp.
“The kids spend a full week participating in events that they might not otherwise be able to enjoy,” said the Dutchess County Deputy Sheriff who is once again accompanying the Dutchess campers. “The kids start their day at 6:30 a.m. with a quick jump in the lake before breakfast and then choose activities ranging from sailing to basketball, archery, fishing, and others before lunch. After lunch, the campers do a different activity before dinner, which is followed by a skill-building exercise disguised as a campfire and the kids love it.”
“Our agency has been participating in the camp for several years and the experience has been great,” said Imperati. “The opportunity to interact with children who don’t realize that the counselors are law enforcement until the last day really helps build a bond between law enforcement and the community, which is something we strive to do every day.”