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Cleveland County Sheriff's Office "STAR Camp" helps kids have a great summer
This little lady wasn't quite ready for the high dive yet so she ventured out onto the smaller dive platform at July's STAR Camp swim and cookout day at the Shelby City Park pool

The Cleveland County Sheriff's Office helped many school kids have loads of great summer fun at their STAR Camp summer camp programs.

STAR Camp, which is an acronym for "Sheriff's Teaching Abuse Resistance" Camp, hosted roughly 250 students from Cleveland County schools this past July. The program, noted Lt. Daniel Howe of the CCSO, replaces the old DARE program and gives kids who have gone through the department's STAR program this past school year a chance at having a great summer camp learning experience.

And what a learning experience it was as the officers gave the students tours of the Sheriff's office, the county courthouse, fire and EMT departments, and played various sports with them. The attendees also got to zipline with their officers, and they visited the Table Rock Fish Hatchery in Morganton. And to take care of the summer heat - which was "pretty intense," Lt. Howe noted - the students were treated to swim time and a cookout at the Shelby City Park's huge pool.

Lieutenant Howe said this was the first time the Sheriff's Office has ever run the STAR Camp, which he said was aimed at giving students at the following elementary schools: Casar, Union, Fallston, Springmore, Washington, Township 3, Pinnacle, and Boiling Springs, something really interesting to do this summer. And they got to see a side of law enforcement officers most don't get to see - that they are parents too.

"There were 14 SROs and Sheriff's Office deputies, coming from all different divisions, and we all enjoy working in the schools and building meaningful relationships with the students," said Lt. Howe, who noted the camp ran for three days a week, for six weeks in July.

"There were different groups of students each week," said Lt. Howe. "After our first camp, which was our kick-off camp, the kids went into themed activities. We averaged roughly 40 kids per camp." Lt. Howe also said the youngsters were taught life lessons and had great learning experiences with each camp. Howe also noted the students did a community service project, which for that Wednesday, was a morning working at Union Elementary where they cleaned out one of the natural areas.

"Our Student Resource Officers (SROs) teach the kids at their schools about how to be a good neighbor and how to be a responsible person," noted Lt. Howe.

Sheriff Alan Norman shared four important points he said his deputies tried to instill within the kids during the STAR Camp: 1.) Drug use prevention; 2.) Bullying (recognizing it and preventing it); 3.) Good citizenship; and 4.) Building self-esteem and self-control.

Regarding the Camp and its outcome this summer, Sheriff Norman said, "It was amazing to watch the kids have fun, grow, and learn good decision making."

Both Sheriff Norman and Lt. Howe noted the department plans to have another STAR Camp next summer, thanks to the great turnout and success of this, their first.

For more information on other great programs hosted or provided by the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office, call (704) 484-4888, or visit their website at http://www.clevelandcounty.com/sheriffs_office and click on the Community Awareness button on the top left of the page.

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