The echoing sound of 120 children reciting The Pledge of Allegiance made its way through Bisset Park in Radford as the inaugural Radford Sheriff’s Summer Skills Camp kicked off. An already hot August morning had the youth of Radford excited for the day’s events. As the five groups of eager kids made their way to the first skill, it was evident that this was a much needed break from the arduous last 18 months.
Radford Sheriff, Mark Armentrout, had the vision for such a camp years ago. His goal was to teach valuable life skills all the while helping form a bond between the Radford youth and its law enforcement agencies. “I want to give them (Radford’s youth) a chance to learn skills that they may not otherwise come in contact with,” Sheriff states. “Something that they can take with them as they grow.”
The Radford Sheriff’s Office started the planning phase of the camp early this year. “A vital part of the success to any community based project is the help of generous volunteers and the partnerships with local businesses,” Deputy Rob Thacker states. “Our community really stepped up and made this dream a reality,” Thacker continued.
Local businesses and agencies partnered with the Sheriff’s Office to put on 6 different skills sections. Archery, fishing, police interaction, fire safety, home and vehicle maintenance were all valuable lessons each child was able to participate in.
The two-day event had the youth learning these valuable skills on Saturday, and putting the newly acquired knowledge to use in the skills competitions on Sunday. Scores were tallied up after the five competitions and the top three finishers in each age group were set to get some amazing prizes. “There were no participation trophies for this camp” Sheriff states “That is one of the most valuable lessons we can teach, you won’t always win.” To reiterate this philosophy, Radford University Head Basketball coach Darris Nichols spoke with the group during the awards ceremony. “You’re going to lose; it’s how you make your comeback that matters.”
This inaugural event also crowned a “Camp Champ” in each of the two age groups. The scores across all 5 skills were added up to determine who had the best overall performance. A gold championship belt and an amazing prize package was given to each of the two champs.
Seeing smiles on the kid’s faces during the camp, there was no denying that this inaugural event was a great success. When asked about next year, Sheriff Armentrout simply stated, “It’s going to be hard to top this year’s event, but we have some tricks up our sleeve.”
For more information, or how you can help with next year’s event, contact [email protected].