PAL/Boys Scouts Hold Historic Summer Camp for Youth

Alvin Powell | The Washington Daily News

The Beaufort County Police Activities League (PAL) and the East Carolina Council, Boy Scouts of America, recently teamed up to hold a seven day/six-night summer camp at Camp Boddie, Blounts Creek. This camp project represented the first collaboration of this type in the United States between the two organizations. The camp project, which included two all-day field trips, was funded by PotashCorp-Aurora.

The camp started out with 25 students, 11 to 15 years of age, and a balanced mix of males and females. Racial diversity was an important objective and it was achieved with black, white and Hispanic youth attending the camp. Positive networking and bonding were clearly demonstrated during the week of camp wherein the students began to help each other. The students were from Aurora, Belhaven, Chocowinity, and Washington. Nineteen determined and proud students completed the program, which exposed them to numerous new experiences, such as their first time away from home or sleeping in a tent.

Camp Boddie is an 800-acre, wooded complex located on the Pamlico River that is owned/operated by East Carolina Council, BSA. This “state of the art” facility offers a variety of land and water-based sports activities. PAL is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, which was organized by PAL President Alvin Powell last year. The PAL group is also registered as a Boy Scout Venture Crew.

PAL’s mission is to work with the law enforcement community and other first responders to improve the relationship with youth, the community, and area businesses by offering unique programs. PAL focuses on working with youth, regardless of their gender, religion, or race, that are at risk of making poor life skill choices because of their decision-making process.

The camp activities consisted of a unique blend of PAL and Boy Scout events. The diverse PAL curriculum was from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily. It consisted of exposure to unique careers in law enforcement, firefighting/emergency medical technology, engineering/science, education, and the military; choosing friends; Internet dangers; bullying precautions; making good life-skill decisions, and financial literacy. During the week, law enforcement, fire and EMT equipment from Aurora, Belhaven, Blounts Creek, Chocowinity, and Washington participated in the camp. The Boy Scouts curriculum was from 4 p.m. until approximately 9 p.m. each evening and consisted of archery, arts, and crafts, water sports, climbing and repelling, educational nature walks and/or ecology.

The camp enjoyed an unprecedented level of support from the community and area businesses, including Beaufort County Schools, Beaufort County Community College, Care-O-World Enrichment Center, Cypress Landing Tennis Club, First Bank, Fitness Unlimited, PotashCorp, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. The PAL officials who participated were Al Powell, retired FBI Special Agent; Gary Robitaille and Andy Anderson, both retired from the U.S. Army; Washington Police Chief Stacy Drakeford; Chocowinity Police Chief Todd Alligood; Belhaven Police Chief Fred Clingenpeel; Juvenile Court Officer Dixon Dillard; and Larry Lang from First Bank.

A presentation about military history was provided by Jesse Hinton, LTC, U.S. Army-Retired, while Melissa Ingrao and Jennifer Harris from First Bank coordinated an interactive presentation on financial literacy. For safety reasons, PAL camp counselors were required with the youth at all times. Ten counselors were used daily and were directly responsible for the success of the camp. They served as both mentors and teachers to the youth in that they reinforced/clarified the life skill messages that were presented during the week.

The students also experienced two exciting field trips. One trip consisted of a tour of the Potash Corp facility and mine, the U.S. Coast Guard Station Hobucken and the Aurora Fossil Museum. While at the Coast Guard station, the students observed a military training exercise that involved a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter landing in front of them and U.S. Navy special operations watercraft. The other field trip was to Dillon’s Aviation in Greenville where the students had an opportunity to see various types of aircraft, including a corporate jet, crop duster, several general aviation airplanes, and an airplane maintenance facility. The students learned about various types of careers in the aviation field. A high point of the airport visit was when the students were afforded an opportunity to fly a full-motion airplane simulator. Lee Chevrolet provided a detailed tour of their facilities and discussed employment qualifications.

Parents and students that are interested in learning more about PAL activities are encouraged to visit the PAL website at http://beaufortpal.tigersix.net/ or contact Alvin Powell at 252-923-9482.

The Beaufort County Police Activities League (BCPAL) is now the Inner Banks STEM Center.

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