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83rd Pct. Summer Camp Big Fun for Youths In Bushwick

Offers Games, Food And Trips

Not every kid in New York City gets the chance to go camping in a real log cabin, but kids who enrolled in the 83rd Precinct’s summer camp program have gotten to do just that.

The summer camp brings together about 40 kids ages seven to 12 and a handful of officers from the 83rd Precinct for eight weeks of games, field trips and learning, according to P.O. Melvin Kendall, the precinct’s youth officer.

In the past, activities included basketball tournaments board game competitions and field trips to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, the Police Museum and Coney Island, Kendall said.

The program is fun, keeps kids out of trouble during the summer and is a great deal, he said. While some summer camp programs can cost more than $1,000, the 83rd Precinct’s summer camp is just $250 for the whole summer, and lunch is provided through the Board of Education, Kendall explained. Additional funding comes from City Council Member Diana Reyna’s office, he said.

Barbara Smith, president of the 83rd Precinct Community Council said her grandson enrolled in the camp last summer.

Kids see the police in a different light and gain respect for them, she explained.

“We’re forging a relationship, so when kids get older, they have a bet- ter working relationship with us,” Kendall said.

The camp has been serving sevento 12-year-olds for more than a decade, according to Kendall.

P.O. Sully Ceballos, who worked at the camp last year and plans to do so again this summer, said she tries to gear some activities toward girls too.

“I’m a female and a mom, so I want to connect with these girls,” she explained.

Ceballos said she brought beauty supplies one day and the girls did one another’s hair and makeup. Another time, she brought a radio and they had a dance party.

Ceballos said one camper who really stood out was a 12-year-old girl who just didn’t want to be there. Ceballos said the girl was miserable until she started gearing activities toward female campers. Ceballos said the girl enjoyed the hair and makeup activities, and she encouraged her to apply to the Fashion Institute of Technology’s high school and precollege program. The girl was accepted and still comes to the precinct to visit with Ceballos though she is now too old for the camp.

Kendall said other ex-campers come back as counsellors when they reach the age of 15-the minimum age to volunteer at the camp.

Many of the camp’s games and gear are donated, and those interested in making donations can contact Kendall at 718-574-1735. The precinct also accepts monetary donations to help fund campers who could otherwise not afford it, he said.

The program is a registered nonprofit organization, and donations are tax-deductible, according to Kendall.

The deadline to apply for camp is June 27, and registration is firstcome, first served, so interested families should register as soon as possible, Kendall said.

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