The 12th annual Sheriff’s Camp is underway in Bannock County. 40 boys and girls in the 10-13 age range, learning lessons that should hopefully put them on a more successful path. 60 percent of the campers are not attending by choice. They are here because of a court order and if they act up, they go to jail. But this isn’t about crime or punishment; it’s about learning life skills.
“Everything we do has a purpose and that purpose is to be able to work together as a team and rely on other people to be able to help you make it through life, and all of us have needed that as we go through life,” said Lorin Nielsen, Bannock County Sheriff.
Tuesday afternoon, the Sheriff approached a group around the campfire and asked them if they had ever roasted a hotdog before. Only a few raised their hands. Many of the children come from broken homes and haven’t had an opportunity like this and they just want someone to believe in them.
“They just need to know at this age that there are people, they don’t have to keep that circle going on,” continued Sheriff Nielsen. “If mom and dad have gone to prison, or if mom and dad have made some problems, or their home is dysfunctional, that doesn’t mean that they have to be.”
Twice in its fourteen year history, the camp has had to skip a year because of lack of funding. They seem to have worked out their money problems and the Sheriff believes the program will be around for many years to come. The reason is because studies have shown that you can reverse the path of children in this age group.
“This is our future,” said Sheriff Nielsen. “We can correct them now. The cement isn’t even dry. To take off any kind of issue, all you have to do is smooth it out. If we wait until that cement dries, you have to take a chisel and hammer, and you still have a scar. These kids are not by any means in a solid mold that they can’t get out of.”
A number of guest speakers have lined up to talk to the group. That includes everyone from the ISU Women’s Basketball Coach to Don Aslett. Tomorrow morning after breakfast, Todd Blackinton will share some stories with the kids.