Youths rise and shine at Camp Cadet

June 04, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Fulton County (Pa.) Camp Cadet participants pet Joker, a 14-year-old Percheron used in the Pennsylvania State Police's mounted patrol unit. He was ridden Monday by Trooper Tim Harsh at Camp Sinoquipe in Fort Littleton, Pa.
By Jennifer Fitch/Staff Writer

FORT LITTLETON, Pa. — This week will be different than the rest of summer vacation for 40 youths participating in the Fulton County (Pa.) Camp Cadet.

The girls woke at 5 a.m. and the boys at 6 a.m. Monday for running, range shooting, water safety class and presentations at the camp, which is run by the Pennsylvania State Police.

Events scheduled through Friday include lessons in arson investigations, forensics, first aid, and resisting drugs and alcohol.

Isaiah Clark, 12, was one of 70 students who interviewed for a spot in the camp. He said he wanted a new experience and found Camp Cadet to be intimidating when he first arrived at Camp Sinoquipe.

“It was a little scary, but I got through it,” he said.

Hollie Williams, 12, said participants quickly learned to respect counselors and say “ma’am” and “sir.” Her sister, who now serves in the U.S. Navy, participated in Camp Cadet about 15 years ago.

“She came to Camp Cadet and loved it,” Hollie said. “It drove her to her career.”

Cpl. William Baker, one of the camp’s organizers, said he was happy with the interest among Fulton County’s young people this year. The camp is open to residents ages 12 to 15.

Fundraisers support Fulton County’s Camp Cadet and allow it to be offered at no cost to participants. It is one of 26 such camps held each year across Pennsylvania.

On Monday, three troopers associated with the mounted police unit told the students about their jobs. They brought three horses — Joker, a Percheron; Cosmo, a Percheron/thoroughbred cross; and Jimmy, an American cream draft horse.

When the state police formed in 1905, troopers worked with 250 horses in their ranks, Trooper Tim Harsh said.

“They patrolled the whole (state) on horses,” Harsh told participants.

Today, the state police keep 26 donated horses stabled in Hershey, Pa. They are mainly used for crowd control in potential riot situations, such as when the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl or when the G-20 Summit was held in Pittsburgh.

“We’ve done parades. We’ve searched wooded areas for people,” Trooper Mike Sprague said.

Mounted police worked 12-hour shifts for two weeks when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001.

Most of the mounted police are patrol troopers who take on the equestrian work as additional duties.

Cpl. Wes Van Wyk explained to the youths that the horses, which each weigh 1,500 to 1,700 pounds, can push crowds as effectively as an entire group of on-foot officers.

“With these three horses, we can do the same thing,” he said.

Personnel trim the horses’ manes short so passers-by cannot yank on them. Also, the troopers try to keep a uniform appearance from the grooming to the logo saddle pads.

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