NANTICOKE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Some kids turned junior SWAT team members respond to a simulated active shooter scenario Wednesday morning at Luzerne County Community College. It was just one of the activities at a law enforcement summer camp for 12 to 14 year olds.
While the threat of the activities may not be real, campers said the experience sure feels like it. “It was kind of a rush. Even though you’re just shooting at fake targets it’s still, still pretty intense,” said 14-year-old camper Hayden Crawford of Hunlock Creek.
The SWAT team experience means kids carry shields and wear body armor and backpacks filled with tools of the trade. 13-year-old camper Stephen Rudawski of Alden said, “It is heavy but really exciting.” 12-year-old camper Olivia Murray of Forty Fort said, “I don’t understand how they can carry that for like hours and hours when I can’t even carry it for ten or 15 minutes.”
With the help of Kingston Police, campers get to see how various weapons work including a taser. Retired police lieutenant and LCCC Public Safety Training Institute Director John Leonard volunteered to be the taser target. “It just knocks the wind out of you and it takes the fight out of you. It’s a great tool.”
The camp gives kids more than a realistic lesson in law enforcement. It also gives them a lesson in respect for the men and women who serve and protect. Mr. Crawford said, “I think they’re really brave because it was kind of scary.” Ms. Murray added, “I think they’re very brave and courageous and I’m very grateful that they’re here.”
Mr. Leonard said the experience also humanizes police officers and helps make them more approachable for kids.