ISP youth summer camp returns amid trooper shortage

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INDIANAPOLIS — From fast food joints to law enforcement, businesses simply can’t find enough people to fill open positions. So they’re turning to your children, at least the Indiana State Police is. 

After taking a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, ISP’s summer camps will be back this year in full swing. They hope your child will join them — and maybe even make a career out of it. 

Troopers say the camps will be safe and also potentially life changing. 

From sixth graders to college students, ISP has a camp session for you. 

“Our hope is that anybody with an interest in law enforcement or who maybe doesn’t understand what we go through, they can apply, sign-up and go to the camp and have a better understanding of what exactly we do,” Sgt. Danielle Elwood-Henderson said.

“One of the new programs that we also started this year is our collegiate course, and not only can it help us possibly with recruiting, but it may help us reach people that just wanna see what happens, or what you go through, and that you learn as a police officer. It gives them that kind of peek at what exactly happens.”

ISP has been holding these camps since 1970. This year, eight different camps are being offered, ranging from pioneer camps to law camps and even career camps.

“Each of those is for different age level and a different type of group, and they’re extremely helpful for kids that might have an interest in going into law enforcement or are just curious,” Elwood-Henderson said.

“We want parents to know it’s a safe environment that they can send their kids. They’re gonna stay with police officers for a week. We monitor them. We spend time with them, and we want them to have that positive interaction with law enforcement.”

Elwood-Henderson recognizes that not all interactions with officers are positive, but she hopes camp can help change the perception with education and fun. 

“It’s extremely important that we have positive interactions with youth,” Elwood Henderson said. “We want to bridge that gap. We want them to see that, you know, we’re here to help them in different situations.

“By the time they go through their graduation ceremony at the end of the week, there’s a lot of tears shed and a lot of excitement for what they’ve accomplished and how hard they’ve worked, and we’re really proud of that.”

Perhaps even more pride-worthy is the burden ISP says new recruits could lift off their shoulders.

“If we could get more people that wanna be in this, it would be helpful to take that relief off a lot of our road guys and be able to just not make people wait as long when they need help,” Elwood-Henderson said. “That really makes it hard because you’re having to make priorities on which call you go to, you know, most severe to least severe, and it takes time to get to all those calls.”

After working these summer camps for the last nine years and overseeing every youth camp in the state, Elwood-Henderson says each camp is still special for her.

“It’s the highlight of my year when I get to go to the camp and spend just that week with them. It’s amazing cause you watch these kids come in in the beginning of the week, and they’re scared. They don’t really know what to expect, and we’re challenging them,” Elwood-Henderson said.

“We missed that interaction with kids, so we’re super pumped to be getting back into it and see the kids and just be part of it.”

Registration signups are open now. There is no deadline, however, troopers hope to have campers signed up at least two weeks before the start of camp in July.

For more information and signup details, check out their website

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