Local kids and Kentucky State Police experience Trooper Island Camp
This week, several Kentucky State Police troopers are trading in their uniforms and marked cars for flip-flops and canoes, as they take part in Trooper Island Camp.
The camp on Dale Hollow Lake, is a place for kids to experience summer camp. Without this opportunity, several of these kids wouldn't get a camp experience.
"I think it's really important that they learn that there is another side to being a state trooper, that we are normal people, behind that gray uniform and that intimidating hat that we wear," said Master Trooper Jeremy Hodges, with KSP Post 3 in Bowling Green.
The kids at camp this week are all around 10-12 years old and are from surrounding counties. For some, this was their first year at Trooper Island Camp, for others, they've made this adventure a summer staple.
"I think that most people, when they get in this profession (being a state trooper), they do it to help people. And, just to be honest with you, if we get out here and we write somebody a ticket, you don't see immediate results. You don't see that you could've saved a horrendous accident from happening five minutes down the road. At Trooper Island, you see immediate results," added Trooper Hodges.
At camp, kids learn skills like fishing and swimming. They practice canoeing, kayaking, archery, and more. Also, they learn life lessons to take back home.
"[I've learned] to just get along with everyone and be nice and don't be bad to people," said Bret White, a first-year camper.
The campers said they enjoy spending time with the counselors and state troopers throughout the week.
"It means a lot, it's really fun and I just get to do a lot more activities with them," said Shelby Hatler, who is spending the week at camp with her family because her dad is a retired state trooper.
"It's always better every year," added fellow camper, Erwin Mabrey.
"The thing that I take away is, with all the negative publicity and the negative light that's been shown on law enforcement in the media lately, it's good to know that these kids are still on our side. So it just makes a difference and I'm glad to be here and I'm proud of this island," said Trooper Hodges.
Another part of Trooper Island Camp is a blue light ceremony honoring fallen troopers. The ceremony will be after sunset on Wednesday night. That will be the only point in the week where campers will see troopers in their full uniforms.
Trooper Hodges added that several former campers have gone on to become state troopers themselves. That's not the goal of the camp, but it is one of the many rewards that they see come from the impact of the island.