By Scott Kane
In 1993, the European Union was formed, Roger Clemens was on the mound for the Red Sox and a free summer camp for Maine fifth- and sixth graders, known today as Camp POSTCARD, was founded.
Twenty-five years later, the EU is faltering and the Rocket has long since fallen from grace. But Camp POSTCARD is still here, still flourishing, still giving kids one of the best weeks of their lives. I know because I was there at the start and I’ve seen the faces of the campers year after year. I’ve watched their tentative first hours give way to enthusiastic interactions as they take on new responsibilities and learn more about their own abilities and talents.
Camp POSTCARD is a summer camp, founded by sheriffs, deputies and DARE officers and staffed by volunteers from the ranks of law enforcement and first responders. It’s evolved into a long-term partnership among the Maine Sheriffs Association and the Maine DARE Officers Association along with Volunteers of America Northern New England.
Camp POSTCARD (Police Officers Striving to Create and Reinforce Dreams) is a free week-long camp for kids from all 16 counties. In just a few weeks, more than 160 kids from around Maine will descend on Agassiz Village in Poland, where they will do all the things kids are supposed to at camp: swim, fish, climb, canoe, play games and make new friends. They’ll also spend the week having positive interactions with law enforcement.
The children who attend Camp POSTCARD are recommended by teachers and guidance councilors for many reasons. They may have limited financial resources, significant self esteem issues, or they may have suffered a serious loss or are being rewarded for positive or improved behavior.
Many of them have either no relationship with or a skeptical regard for law enforcement. By the end of the week, the kids see their camp counselors as friends, role models and people they can trust. This camp breaks down barriers and builds relationships. It builds confidence in the kids, gives them a new perspective on law enforcement, and helps them learn to make good choices as they grow.
For us, for the hardened, seasoned, “seen-it-all” officers and first responders, Camp POSTCARD reminds us of why we chose this profession in the first place: to make a difference and to help improve people’s lives. Camp POSTCARD is as important to all of us as it is to the kids. If you’ve never heard of Camp POSTCARD, I encourage you to learn more about it. You may know a fifth- or sixth-grader who could benefit from a week with us. To find out more about it, or if you’d like to support Camp POSTCARD, check it out here: https://www .voanne.org/camp-postcard
Happy 25th birthday, Camp POSTCARD. Here’s to 25 more!
Scott Kane is one of the founders of Camp POSTCARD and is sheriff of Hancock County.