Camp Cadet in Clarion Offers Some “Basic” Training

IMG_6290CLARION, Pa. – The sound of marching, cadence calling, and plenty of “yes sirs” and “no sirs” at Clarion University this past week can only mean one thing.  Camp Cadet is back.

Operated by Pennsylvania State Police Troop C Camp Cadet since 1986, the week long camp is designed for boys and girls, 12 to 14 years of age, from the Troop C area that covers counties of McKean, Forest, Elk, Clarion, Jefferson, and Clearfield.  A total of 54 boys and girls attended the camp this year.  The camp has a long history of hosting Camp Cadet.

“It’s a law enforcement related camp run in what we would call a paramilitary style,” said Trooper Jamie LeVier.

Students must apply for admission and applications are circulated throughout the schools in Troop C.

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“This is a camp for kids who may have an interest in law enforcement or an interest in going to a structured camp where they get a chance to go off and learn some discipline.  It is definitely a ‘yes sir, no sir’ type of camp. This is not a camp where kids with disciple problems are sent.”

The PSP website description of the goal of the camp is to introduce participants to the diverse criminal justice system and establish a positive relationship with law enforcement personnel.

The days are packed with activities such as physical training, various speakers, and other activities.  Physical training is first on the list, and the “recruits” also get a chance to march, learn the difference between right and left, and a welcome to military marching.

Speakers and activities during the week included:

• Visits from the State Police Special Emergency Response Team (SERT), helicopter, the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Team shows how they reconstruct crashes, and even drug dogs.

• One day included visits from the Secret Service, the FBI, the Fish Commission, and the Game Commission.  The Clarion County Drug and Alcohol Commission also did a drug program, and the Liquor Control Enforcement officers were also part of the instruction.

• Thursday allowed some recreation for the campers when they traveled to Cook Forest and used canoes and kayaks donated by Pale Wale Canoe Rentals.  The day also includes some lectures, but everyone has an opportunity to travel down the Clarion River.

One of the standout programs for the week was a mock trail day where campers see both sides of the legal system. 

“We have a crime that takes place and then we march off to the Courthouse,” said LeVier. “Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron was the prosecution attorney, Attorney Mark Falvo from DuBois was the defense attorney, and Judge James Arner sat on the bench. 

“We utilize all of the kids in a number of different fashions to act as the defense team, prosecution team, a couple of people sat on the bench with the judge, and we had a jury in place.  It’s a really fun day.”

Troop C Commander Captain Bernard J. Petrovsky was on hand Friday morning to inspect the troops.  A traditional graduation ceremony was held Friday night with keynote speaker Lieutenant Christopher J. Neal.

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The staff for Camp Cadet is impressive and diverse, with four counselors chosen because of their history as camp graduates, and they now help run the camp.

“We have drill instructors from throughout the area, military and state police drill instructors, and other troopers are also involved,” said LeVier.  “A couple of active military personnel here and one has served an extensive amount of time in combat.  One person came to camp and came back as a drill instructor and has been here a number of years.”

The legacy of the camp can be seen in its drill instructors.

“Our senior drill instructor, Sgt. Bill Reynolds, a retired corrections officer from New York State, has been around camp for more than 20 years.   He’s really looked up to for his leadership, and the ironic thing is that two of the drill instructors are his sons. The legacy is being carried on in a very good way.”

LeVier thinks the camp is a great opportunity for the State Police to be able to showcase what they do in their job to the young people attending.

“It’s also an opportunity for us to instill what we consider some really good qualities in our young people,” said LeVier.  “Core values such as honor and integrity and a couple of them. We really try to stress the self-discipline, self-respect, and respect for others.”

The discipline and structure of the camp can surprise some of the students, but they adjust.

“It’s definitely a different way of life that they’re not used to for some of the students,” said LeVier.  “Parents often comment about how they get a couple of really good weeks whenever the kids return home from camp where they’re doing things a little differently than they normally did.  It’s a very structured camp.”

Another unique aspect of Camp Cadet is that even though the State Police developed it, the entire $13,000 annual budget is funded through private contributions and no tax money is used.

“The camp that is funded solely through contributions from private individuals and different organizations throughout the troop area, “ said LeVier. “Once a year we do a golf tournament in May at Treasure Lake, and we’re able to raise a considerable amount that helps the kids to be able to attend camp free, with the exception of a small registration fee.”


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