Conway summer camp encourages kids to keep away from gangs, violence

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 5:42 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Every year during the summer, the Conway Police Department hosts Camp G.R.E.A.T. for kids to learn the difference between right and wrong.

Camp G.R.E.A.T is an acronym for Gang Resistance Education And Training.

Through the seven-week program, school resource officers teach elementary and middle school students ways to stay away from gangs and violence.

“The experiences at this camp are very fun,” said camper Tayani Brewer.

“This year is a bit more actually teaching them morals and manners. Rights and wrongs and everything like that,” said Officer Briston Smith of the Conway Pollice Department.

The program includes lessons on how to build confidence, confront peer pressure, make positive decisions and deal with bullying.

It also aims to help children develop an identity outside of violence and build self-esteem.

Smith said teaching these kids was never a dull day.

“I just love hanging out with the kids and helping them get better too,” said Smith. “For us to actually step in and show it ourselves who we really are, that we are not just a gun and a badge. Actually, hang out and talk to these kids, these kids actually have a great time with us.”

Camp G.R.E.A.T. also helps encourage children to have their own voice.

“Gang members are not good, and sometimes they do bad things that you are not supposed to do; such as destroy things, hurt people, and put others in danger,” said Brewer.

Brewer also said she’s using her own voice to pass along what she’s learned to other kids in her neighborhood.

“You are supposed to be the leader,” she said. “So, you teach the younger kids that go to your school not to bully or steal things that aren’t good for you.”

The camp is also a way to help kids create bonds with members of law enforcement. Officers also hope what campers learn can be carried on as they grow up.

“You don’t have to be certified to teach them what respect is or how to treat adults or how to treat each other. We taught them rules about stealing and anything that could get them in trouble,” said Smith.

Copyright 2022 WMBF. All rights reserved.