Some 24 active and retired state troopers give up their vacations to serve as counselors during camp week, said Donald Eisaman, camp director and a retired trooper from McConnellsburg.
This is the third year for Camp Cadet in Fulton County, which is at Sinoquipe Scout Reservation in northern Fulton County.
The private, nonprofit camp operates for a week with $10,000 from local donors, Eisaman said.
It's a week-long regimen of calisthenics, physical training, classes, marching and military recruit-style discipline. Campers learn about police work, about themselves and how to overcome obstacles and accept challenges. Sharing those hardships builds friendships, Eisaman said.
The day begins at 5:30 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m.
Homesickness wears off quickly at Camp Cadet, counselors said, and the kids are settled into the routine by mid-week.
"Sir, I like looking forward to challenges, sir," said "Rambo," who actually is Kelly Williams, 12, a seventh-grader at Southern Fulton Elementary School.
"I wanted to find out what Camp Cadet was really like," Kelly said. "I've heard good and bad things about it. It's not as bad as some people say."
Joshua Huston, 12, a seventh-grader at McConnellsburg High, said the thing he hates most about Camp Cadet is "the six-inchers - lying on your back and holding your feet six inches off the ground."
Representatives from the state police, FBI, Secret Service, Pennsylvania Game Commission and the K-9 Corps put on demonstrations. A National Guard Unit from Chambersburg, Pa., brought a Humvee loaded with Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs, cold field dinners that the kids gobbled up.
They learned karate and rappelling, water safety and CPR. They also shot live ammunition from every weapon in the state police arsenal, from handguns to automatic weapons, Easton said.
The FBI set up a mock murder case that the kids investigated and prosecuted in a mock courtroom, said Sgt. Eric Easton, a trooper from Harrisburg, Pa. On Wednesday two state police helicopters landed and their crews put on a demonstration for the campers.
There was also time to just to relax and have fun, like at the Saturday night dance, which Easton said "will be followed by a run through tear gas."