White Haven, Luzerne County — More than 80 children listened intently on Thursday to Wildlife Conservation Officer Gerald Kapral. He talked about how the Pennsylvania Game Commission handles what’s inside the bear trap that he brought to Camp Kresge in White Haven. The snout poking through the trap belonged to a 125 pound black bear. “That’s the first time I’ve ever been that close to a bear that’s still living,” said camper Sierra Finnerty. The 14-year-old Wyalusing girl is one of more than 80 children from Luzerne, Wyoming, Sullivan and Bradford Counties attending Troop P Camp Cadet. She and the other campers got a quick lesson in trapping and transferring bears. “Basically we get it nice and close and then ‘boom’ we just give it a quick jab and ‘phew’ that drug goes into the bear,” said Ofc. Kapral.
Wildlife Conservation Officers opened the trap to reveal that the bear had been effectively sedated. “They tranquilize it then they take the tooth out like then they put the ear… the tag in the ears and like it was really cool,” said Ms. Finnerty.
Camp Cadet is much more than a lesson in wildlife. It’s just one of the many layers of law enforcement that campers get to experience. They are also challenged physically and mentally during the week-long camp to mirror in a small way the life of someone who upholds the law. “It’s really like a test to see if you can live through just a little bit of discipline for a week,” said Troop P Camp Cadet Junior Counselor Adam Chase. Troop P Camp Cadet Director Trooper Tom Kelly added, “It’s a camp for good kids who are interested in law enforcement and want to be rewarded with a challenging week.” The camp gives kids a lasting impression about character and camaraderie. “I think it’s awesome. There’s a lot of discipline that goes into it and everything but once you get past that it’s really nice,” said Ms. Finnerty.