By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)——————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the School District of Oconee County concluded their 2nd Leadership Camp recently with a graduation ceremony on June 9th at the Law Enforcement Center in Walhalla.
30 students participated in the camp, which was held from June 6th through June 9th, along with deputies from the Sheriff’s Office, including the School Resource Officers, and School District officials. Among the activities the students participated in were hiking, fishing, basketball, zip lining and swimming as well as a visit to some of the athletic facilities at Clemson University. The students were taken on a tour of the Oconee County Rock Quarry and got to see some of the equipment in use.
Leadership and team building skills were a part of the camp as well as exercises in which volunteers had small group time with the students for better relationship building.
“The summer leadership camp is a great opportunity for some of our students to build healthy relationships and experience things that they would not normally be able to experience,” according to Dr. Michael Thorsland, Superintendent of Education for the School District of Oconee County. “The deputies that participate do a great job encouraging the students and helping them prepare to be successful in school the next year.”
“This is a great proactive activity that the Sheriff has implemented. We are thrilled with the partnership,” says Dr. Thorsland.
According to Lt. Mark Lyles, who is supervisor of the School Resource Officers with the Sheriff’s Office, the students who made up this year’s Leadership Camp were middle school age boys. They were identified by the School District as those who were having trouble in school with grades or may have had discipline issues that the volunteers thought they could help to address this summer to avoid potential problems in the future.
“I think things have gone very well and the students have been very receptive,” says Lt. Lyles as the camp was in session. “The students have told me and told the other officers how much they are having fun and we have had positive feedback from the parents and grandparents of the students who have participated.”
“The most rewarding thing for me is to see the students have fun and a good time and for them to know that law enforcement cares for them and to see their emotion as they build self-confidence,” continues Lt. Lyles.
Below are comments from some of the School Resource Officers with the Sheriff’s Office concerning the 2nd Leadership Camp:
Corporal Charles Mulwee, at-risk SRO, Elementary Schools: “This was my second leadership challenge camp. Last year we had Elementary aged boys and this year we had middle school age boys. By the third day of the camp you will start to see the young men come out of their shyness and start to step up and be vocal as a leader. It’s a very humbling experience. It continues to promote the sheriff’s vision of building partnerships to promote a safer community!”
Corporal Chris Roach, SRO, West-Oak High School: “This was my first year in working with the Leadership Camp. I had a blast at the camp, and I cannot wait to be able to do it next year. The camp has a great impact on everyone. It affects the students, staff, volunteers, as well as all of the supporters. The affect may not be seen on the students at the present moment, however it greatly increases the partnership and the relationship between the student and Law enforcement, the community, and society. The camp is not about one person, officer, volunteer, or even the Sheriff, it’s all about the students and the affect that we can make on the students to change their lives.”
Corporal Keith Brooks, SRO, Walhalla High School: “I feel that the students did see that we are there for them and we do care. All of us that helped with the camp showed we are willing to take time to show that being a leader even in simple things makes a difference. I feel that all the students that came did enjoy some part of the camp and learned a little about working together and having a good time.”
Here is a list of the individuals and sponsors who helped to make the 2nd Leadership Camp a success:
Oconee County Sheriff’s Office
School District of Oconee County
Oconee County Rock Quarry
The National Guard
Diamond T Promotions
Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative
Walhalla City Pool
Bountyland Quik Stop – Fishing Rods and Water
Wildwater – Jack Wise
Rick Crowe – The Bait Shop
Seneca location of Ingles
Seneca location of BI-LO
The Seneca Walmart
Richard Sanford and the Chauga Service Station – Ice Cream