Camp is no vacation for Fulton Co. teens

June 11, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

FORT LITTLETON, Pa. - 0545 to 0645 hours: physical training.

0645 to 0730: hygiene.

0730 to 0745: flag raising.

0745 to 0815: breakfast/cabin inspection.

This is the start of summer vacation for 34 Fulton County, Pa., youths entering Camp Cadet, and they will soon come to love the schedule, their predecessors promise.

"There's nothing like this experience," Jamie Bryner said.

Jamie, 14, of Needmore, Pa., fell in love with Camp Cadet and is back this year as a senior cadet, guiding the 12- to 14-year-olds who checked into the 13th annual program Sunday afternoon. They will have lessons in water safety, dog law enforcement, state history, snakes and shooting before Friday's graduation ceremony, which follows a 5K run.


Surprises are also on tap at the camp sponsored jointly by the Pennsylvania State Police McConnellsburg barrack, the county's social services agencies and area schools.

One surprise - eagerly anticipated by Jamie and the other three senior cadets - is known as a "white tornado," during which staff tear apart cabins.

"They actually threw one kid's bunk in the woods," Jamie said. "Always keep your eyes open and your mouth shut."

Jamie wants to join the Marine Corps, and his parents sent him to Camp Cadet hoping that it would knock the desire out of their son's system. Instead, Jamie (a well-spoken teenager who is quick to use "sir" or "ma'am" in conversation) cried when leaving the camp and said he wanted to go back.

"When you're here, you think it's hard work, but when you get home, you want to go back," said Ainsley Kendall, a 14-year-old senior cadet from McConnellsburg.

Fellow senior cadet Zach Sosak knew about the camp because his father is a state trooper. Zach, 15, of New Grenada, Pa., was considering his future when he signed up.

"I'm thinking of going to law school, and I thought this would help me in a job interview," he said.

On Sunday, campers were told to sit down and place their color-coded baseball caps on their right knees during a demonstration by Cpl. Bob Johnson and his Pennsylvania State Police narcotics dog, Marko.

Johnson explained how narcotics dogs are trained by stuffing a toy with heroin, cocaine or marijuana. From then on, dogs feel they are searching for their favorite toy rather than a drug.

"We haven't made him a drug addict. ... He never eats them or ingests them," Johnson said.

Marko, who is trained on Dutch commands, searched for and found a recently fired handgun in the weeds. His in-service searches include trains, buses, cars, packages, school lockers, houses and open spaces, according to Johnson.

He congratulated cadets on their participation in the camp.

"You're going to be able to do things you never thought you'd be able to do," Johnson said.

"We don't sit around a campfire and roast marshmallows," another trooper said in passing.

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