The Foundation for VPS provides funding throughout the year to offer students mentoring and enrichment opportunities for little or no cost. The ultimate goal is to increase engagement in learning, build confidence, and help connect them to their passions.
Last summer around 100 children participated in the Mad Science, STEAM, and forensics camps offered through the Police Activities League (PAL) of Southwest Washington. For the fifth year, the camps were hosted at Fruit Valley Elementary School and were open to all youth in the community, with first priority given to Fruit Valley students and siblings. This year was extra special because PAL was also able to offer ASL interpretation for Deaf students who wanted to attend camp.
Camp organizers say youth participating in their programs typically show an increase in personal confidence, higher school attendance, less rates of discipline in the school, a greater sense of community, and stable/increased positive view of law enforcement. They also gain a positive adult in their lives and are reminded of their value and voice.
PAL arranged for representatives from five different local law enforcement agencies to visit the camps and work directly with the youth. All the activities are incredibly hands-on and keep children engaged and learning together for the three hours they are at camp. A favorite experience is when Pepa the therapy horse comes to visit. Pepa is a regular at the PAL camps, and was even on site in Summer 2020 when students picked up take home kits for their virtual camps. Pepa’s owner Tyler Castle, of Castle Farms, says visiting PAL’s camps are the highlight of his summer, “Pepa loves visiting with kids and it brings the team and me joy.”