WINTHROP (AP) – The fifth- and sixth-graders attending Camp Postcard this week are not only learning how to fish, paddle a canoe and sing karaoke. They’re also making connections with local law enforcement officials.

Camp Postcard, which stands for Police Officers Striving to Create and Reinforce Dreams, is in its 10th year of offering a free, weeklong camp experience to about 150 youngsters from all over Maine.

Donations from companies and individuals make up the $40,000 cost for running the camp.

which is organized by the Maine Sheriffs’ Association, the Maine Drug Abuse Resistance Education Officers’ Association and the Volunteers of America in Northern New England.

Most of the camp’s leaders and counselors are police officers, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and criminal justice officials who hope to influence campers to make good decisions about drugs, alcohol and crime and to provide leadership opportunities.

One of the main goals is to show the children that law enforcement officials care about kids’ futures, said Christine Buchanan, a state police specialist and camp supervisor.

“This gives an opportunity for the kids to see law enforcement (and corrections) officials in a whole, totally different light,” she said.

The camp serves need-based campers as well as children who are invited as a reward for improved behavior and leadership development.

Deborah French of Augusta said the camp has been a much-needed time of structure and teamwork for her son, Luke Shurman. Luke was nominated for the camp by a DARE officer and a Farrington Elementary School guidance counselor.

“Being the youngest in a single-parent family for most of his life, he gets the tail end of everything,” French said.

His mother said she was impressed by his enthusiasm about camp responsibilities and making new friends.

AP-ES-06-23-03 0216EDT

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