Military style youth camp aims to instill success in campers

GODFREY, IL - When campers arrived for the Team Illinois Youth Police Camp in Godfrey, IL they faced members of the military and law enforcement addressing them in forceful tones with very specific instructions.  Failure to comply resulted in campers being given additional tasks.

Some 80 campers will spend an entire week at Principia College.  They face a strict itinerary that starts with early morning inspections.

“We inspect their dorm rooms every morning and most of the time they have to redo the bed,” said Illinois State Trooper Calvin Dye.  “They have to redo their uniform.  Shirts must be tucked in at all times. The pants will not sag.  We’re teaching them the basic fundamentals of life; you know good manners, good character, good morals and good values.”

The idea of the program is to show area teens that hard work pays off and there are no shortcuts to success.  Former camp graduate Brooke Sohn said she was scared at first.

“The beginning of the camp I didn’t think I would make it through at all.  I was so scared,” said Sohn.

“But at graduation I was like yes I did this. I can do anything now.”

She returned to the camp to be a mentor for this year’s campers.   Jamaine Owens is also a camp graduate who returned to be mentor.

“I’m going to try and get up earlier than they will so I can go in their rooms, help them out and make sure they’re all good before the inspection comes,” said Owens.

Dye said the camp is funded entirely by donations from a variety of organizations and companies such as Ameren.  He said he’s heard success stories from parents.  In some cases if the parent says their child has slipped back into their old ways, police or military members have even made a house call.