ARDSLEY, N.Y. — Over the past seven weeks, the Greenburgh Police Summer Youth Camp worked with the Westchester County Bomb Squad, visited the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan, folded a flag at Arlington National Cemetery and performed exercises on the Lincoln Memorial’s Great Lawn in Washington.
From July 9 to Aug. 25, 30 local teenagers participated in an intensive program aimed at teaching students about the police department and expanding their perceptions of law enforcement.
“The camp is an abbreviated, condensed, but complete, police academy,” said Officer David Zenon, explaining that the students executed the same drills and completed the same tests that are performed in recruit school.
The camp’s graduation took place at Anthony F. Veteran Park on Saturday, celebrating the discipline, responsibility and accountability shown by the campers.
Sgt. Robert Gramaglia noted that the camp was not easy for several students, mentioning that many had thought about quitting. However, the determination and perseverance they learned from the program guided them to continue. Zenon said the students’ negative thoughts changed from “I can’t” to “I need to find a way to do it.”
Parents filled the multipurpose room, snapping photos of their police camp graduates as Zenon, Gramaglia and Police Chief Joseph DeCarlo congratulated the students.
The Greenburgh Police Department received 70 applications for the summer camp; 30 teenagers were accepted and 28 graduated. Former Police Chief John Kapica began the camp in 1999 to introduce local youths to law enforcement and create a better relationship between teenagers and police officers, said DeCarlo.
Over the past two months, the students learned from the Greenburgh K-9 unit, SWAT team and technical rescue team. They also traveled to Washington, where they visited the Museum of Crime and Punishment, the Police Memorial Museum and the Pentagon.
The police camp — called “one of the most exciting and groundbreaking experiences for our children” by state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins — is funded by the Lanza Foundation. The camp, which costs $65,000 to run, was cut from the Police Department’s budget five years ago. Since then, Westchester resident Patricia Lanza has fully funded the program.
“I can’t thank her enough,” DeCarlo said. “We wouldn't have this” without her help.
Zenon encouraged the campers to continue their education and, perhaps, pursue a career in the police department.
“This is a wonderful program that encourages young people to appreciate the work of our police,” Town Supervisor Paul Feiner wrote in a news release. “Perhaps one of tomorrow’s graduates will become a future police chief.”
For information about next year’s Greenburgh Police Summer Youth Camp, contact Sgt. Gramaglia at 914-682-5391.