Over 100 local youth attend OCSO camps

OKEECHOBEE — Area youth not only were kept busy for a couple of weeks, but also had the chance to see and do a lot of different things at summer camps put on by the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO).

The OCSO School Resource Officer Unit (SRO) organized and ran the two camps that were held in June at the OCSO gun range.

Law enforcement officers and biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) were also heavily involved in the camps. Heading up FWC’s involvement was Captain Jeff Ardelean, who played an integral part in teaching camp participants.

OCSO Deputy Sergeant Mark Roberts, who heads up the SRO unit, said two camps — one for children ages 8 – 11 and the other for children 12 – 15 years of age — were each one week long.

Participants in the youth camp learned about team building, law enforcement and conservation. They also took some field trips that included a trip to the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce.

Those attending the teen camp also learned about team building as well as shooting, archery and fishing. They also took classes in hunter and boating safety and, like those in the youth camp, took field trips to Lake Okeechobee and Harbor Branch.

Sgt. Roberts said approximately 60 children took part in the youth camp, while 45 children attended the teen camp.

SRO UNIT

Besides teaching attendees valuable lessons, Sgt. Roberts said, “The camps help build rapport between law enforcement and the community.”

Members of the SRO unit are deputies: Tammy Serafini, John Fisher, Steve McKinley, Keith Murrish and Donnie Holmes.

Sgt. Roberts and his unit were recently honored for the way the two camps were organized, and the way each camp was run.

The OCSO sergeant said the camps are made possible each year with the help of the local Children’s Services Council.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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