Franklin Police Leadership Camp Aims to Build Community
Franklin Police Leadership Camp aims to build a relationship with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in Franklin. Children learn about various police specialties, with physical conditioning and team-building in the mix. These past participants got a close encounter with a state police helicopter. Photos used courtesy of Franklin PD.
By J.D. O’Gara
Looking for something for your Franklin tweens to do this summer? The Franklin Police Department wants folks to know that Franklin Police Leadership Camp is ON again this year, taking place from July 10th-14th for kids going into 6th, 7th and 8th grades.
“It was formerly known as DARE camp,” says FPD Officer Paul Guarino. While in years past, the camp would fill up to the maximum 75 participants, meeting the department’s cost for the program, “We didn’t run the camp for a few years because of COVID. Last year was our first year running it again, and we didn’t fill up.”The goal of the camp is to create a fun experience for the children, says Guarino, “but also to show the kids that we’re just normal people and build some relationships and break down some barriers with it.” Although the Community Service Unit runs the camp, “we have a very strong showing from the Patrol Division,” says Guarino. “The Patrol guys all play a role in it.”
In fact, Guarino explains that so many officers want to be involved, “we sometimes have a hard time making the schedule.” Since FPD can only compensate a certain number of officers per day to work with campers, “A lot of the officers volunteer their own time, because they feel so strongly about it all.” The camp fee covers the cost of the program, “with no real surplus,” he says.
Each day begins with physical exercise, “strength training and conditioning, team building exercises, field games and drilling ceremonies,” says Guarino, “During the camp days, we introduce all different police specialties. We always try to do a K-9 demonstration, and our therapy dog is usually there every day, which is great. We’ve had a state police helicopter land, and we’ve had (campers) do fingerprinting and the processing of a crime scene.
“We try to introduce a break that’s educational, hands-on learning of some law enforcement things. More recently, a specialized officer, authorized to fly drones, has joined in to teach youth participants about drones in law enforcement, including the PD’s need to adhere to the 4th amendment in using this technology.
Different days of the week have scheduled events that focus on team building and leadership, including:
• Monday, tours at the police station, with minute-to-win-it games, team building, Police Department culture of being “only as strong as the weakest person,” as Guarino put it.
• Tuesday, as a field day, spent at Meadowlark Field. “There, we just play typical camp games, dodgeball, kickball,” says Guarino, “We feel there’s a lot of value in just old school basics of team-building games.”
• Wednesdays, says Guarino, is a field trip. “Historically, it’s been to Water Wizz,” he says, although that plan had not been confirmed at press time.
• Thursdays, campers again participate in a field day at Meadowlark Field with additional games.
• Friday includes more field games, adding in a family barbecue at noon and a graduation ceremony.
The camp will run Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., Wednesday 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., and Friday, from 8 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Leadership Camp, says Officer Guarino, allows FPD “to build relationships that otherwise wouldn’t be able to be achieved. It’s really fun that I see people, kids, all the time that were in DARE camp many years ago, and they still recognize me.”
For more information on Franklin Police Leadership Camp, visit the town website at https://www.franklinma.gov/police-department/pages/leadership-camp, or scan the QR code accompanying this article.