Youth camp gives kids opportunity to connect with Metro officers

(Photo: WKRN)

MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) – The longest-running charitable project operated by a local fraternal order of police is right here in Middle Tennessee.

The Andrew Jackson Police Youth Camp has been around for over 50 years.

Nestled on 35 acres of Old Hickory Lake, a children’s camp is helping strengthen relationships between police and the communities they serve.

Sergeant Misty Hobbs-Camp has been involved with the camp for over 10 years and now directs one of the camps for girls.

(Photo: WKRN)

“The kids may live in government housing, or it could just be living in section 8 or different locations in Davidson County. We’re happy to sign up any kid that we can get to come to camp. We just want them to have a good time and forget about the rest of the world for a week and have a good time,” said Hobbs-Camp.

The kids, ages 8 to 12 years, spend the week in the pool or out on the lake for activities.

“To be able to interact with these kids and show them that we’re not this big bad guy, or mean, you know to be able to bridge that gap and have that relationship with the community, it’s amazing. You’ll have some kids they’ll see you out in public later on, and they’ll go ‘hey I went to your FOP camp!’” added Hobbs-Camp.

The FOP brings in a magician and hosts a carnival night complete with popcorn and cotton candy. They even go skating, fly in an airplane and participate in a scavenger hunt—all free of charge.

(Photo: WKRN)

“We got six weeks we run every year with nearly 50 kids a week. Approximately 300 kids come through. We’ve got a cook that cooks them three meals a day. We’ve got up-keep of facilities. It takes money to do that and we charge no kids, no families,” said camp director Allen Herald.

Thirteen police officers are on special assignment for the week to work with the kids at camp. They participate in all the activities with the kids and attend an award ceremony at the end of the week in full uniform.

They’ve been working with these kids all week in counselor clothes and now you’re in full uniform and they see, police are real people. We’re friends, we’re there for you if you need us,” said Herald.

“I’m actually holding back tears right now, by the end of the week you’ve made relationships with these kids. You know their names, you know where they live, you know what they like. It touches your heart to know that you’ve made a difference in their lives,” added Hobbs-Camp.

The weekly counselors are in charge of individual fundraising for their camps for the extra activities like skating.

Patrons can specifically donate to each counselor or just donate to the FOP cam in general.

To learn more and to donate to the Andrew Jackson Police Youth Camp, click here.