by Jonathan Weaver
More than 60 local youth are out of school for a month, but still wake up at 6AM, learn to respond “Yes, sir (or ma`am)” and have put away the electronics.
The 12-15 year olds are also learning first aid, various Pennsylvania State Police divisions and County rescue, emergency and government agencies this week while enrolled in Camp Cadet.
Held each summer at Lenape Technical School in Manor Township, the teens are divided into five squads.
Senior Counselor Sara Green, of Ford City, attended the local Camp Cadet in 1997 and has been a counselor for about 15 years.
“Some of these kids will never see this ever in their lives, so they’re seeing a lot that they wouldn’t otherwise. It gives them a lot of opportunity,” Green said. “This is one of the largest classes we’ve ever had.
“I hope they can see that there’s much more in the world. If we change one life, then it was worth it. And I believe in 42 years, we have,” she continued. “There have been people that went to military academies, went on to become troopers.”
After being influenced to attend by her parents, Green – a 2002 Ford City High graduate – said skills such as self-respect, discipline and positive reinforcement helped to mold her today.
Emily Maurer, 15 and her 12-year-old sister, Amber – both of Cowansville – are in their first year at the camp after being inspired by their father’s daily service as a Pennsylvania State Police trooper.
“I thought it would be a great experience for me,” Emily said.
Emily looked forward to Wednesday’s presentation by the State Police SERT team most. The soon-to-be Karns City sophomore hopes to one day be in the medical
The Maurer are both part of the largest female class.
“We usually get 10 (female cadets) – but, this year we have 21,” Green said.
Green was part of the second class when females were accepted, in 1997.
Civilian volunteers Stephen Livcik and Jim Stewart have attended all 42 local Camp Cadet.
Livcik, of Ford Cliff, recalled the first Camp was held in Maysville before moving to West Hills Elementary (in East Franklin Township). His son – Tim – also was a junior counselor.
“I think it’s a good program – I think it has a big impact on these kids,” Livcik said. “I firmly believe we can help one kid maybe go down the right path as far as drugs and alcohol – that’s why I (volunteer).”
Livcik – who used his vacation time every year from Allegheny Technologies for 32 years to volunteer at the camp – praised Lenape Tech instructors and staff for providing hot meals each day and for their support helping the teens form lasting friendships and confidence.
“We challenge them hard here – these kids think they can’t do things, but they do them,” Livcik said.
Along with the SERT presentation, cadets also toured the Armstrong County Courthouse and Emergency Operations Center Wednesday – meeting with officials such as Judge Panchik and District Attorney Scott Andreassi – and saw police and LifeFlight helicopters up close.
Community donations allow for all the participants to attend camp for free. According to the Camp Cadet website, each kid costs $175.
Teens attending this year are not eligible to return.
Besides in Armstrong, there are 49 other Camp Cadet programs across the state. A male and a female cadet from this year’s class that has stood out throughout the week through discipline and leadership will join 98 other cadets next year at the Commissioners’ Honors Camp in Hershey.
Green, who has attended the honors camp, said cadets attend the Pennsylvania State Police Academy in Hershey and learn more in-depth about safety procedures.
Camp Director Al Santucci is set to retire later this year.