Camp POSTCARD: A different kind of summer camp
BEARTOOTH CHRISTIAN CAMP — Every June, something very powerful occurs in the foothills of the rugged Beartooth Mountains just beyond Dean.
A select group of fifth and sixth graders from across the state gather for a free, week-long, value-based program designed to build self-esteem, leadership, decision-making skills and teamwork through a variety of activities.
The recreational activities are first rate — rock climbing, shooting, archery and crafts.
Serving as counselors are police officers and sheriff’s deputies who don’t don their uniforms until graduation day. Many campers don’t know until then that the men and women with whom they spent just about every waking second for the previous five days are police officers. The arrangement is designed to create positive connections with law enforcement in the hopes of reducing tobacco, alcohol and drug use. The impact, say participants and organizers, can be life-changing for the good.
Representing Stillwater County this year was Columbus Police Officer/School Resource Officer Gary Timm, Stillwater County Sheriff’s Deputy Renzel Crain and seven local kids.
The Stillwater team placed first overall at the Olympic event “chutes.” Camper Dylan Mahoney claimed first place on the team on the rifle range, said Deputy Crain.
“I absolutely loved it, and cannot wait until next year,” said Timm, who was a first-timer.
Camp POSTCARD stands for Police Officers Striving To Create And Reinforce Dreams. This year, 17 officers and deputies from around the state brought kids from Yellowstone County, Billings, Laurel, Missoula, Gallatin County, Bozeman, Big Horn County and Great Falls.
The law enforcement connection brings a unique element to camp through “Demo Day” which involves various agencies bringing their toys to camp to show how the are used. Demo Day this year included a medical helicopter, Columbus Fire Rescue’s “smoke house,” Stillwater Mine’s rescue crew, the Billings Police Department’s K-9 unit, bomb squad, and evidence van, Bozeman Police Department’s motorcycle unit, to name a few.
MAKING IT POSSIBLE
Making the week possible is the Volunteers of America — a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. Established in Sheridan, Wyo., in 1985, VOA is “fueled by love and compassion, a deeply held belief in human worth and dignity, and an unfailing dedication to the human spirit,” according to its website.
Camp is free for the kids and funded by the VOA at a cost of approximately $1,000 per camper, said Timm.