Digging Deeper: CHAMPS camp keeping kids away from crime - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: CHAMPS camp keeping kids away from crime

Overall crime in Albany is actually down so far this year, but property crimes are still high.

Police say too often teenagers are committing those crimes.

Right now, the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office is conducting a 6-week camp giving teens something positive to do this summer.

While Albany Police have increased patrols to cut down on crime, the Sheriff's Office is targeting 166 kids in their CHAMPS Camp. CHAMPS stands for Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods for Promoting Safety.

It's an innocent game of dogdeball for more than a hundred kids, but it's got a lesson in it too.

"In dodge ball you have to, I always tell kids you have to be alert, be aware, and pay attention and if you're not alert, and aware, and paying attention in dodge ball you could get hurt," said Lt. Terron Hayes, CHAMPS Program Coordinator.

It's the same thing on the streets, which is why for a twelfth year the Sheriff's Office and partners are hosting CHAMPS Camp.

"They'd be bored, looking for something to do, you know the old saying an idle mind is the devil's workshop and they'd sure be looking for things to get into," said Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul,

They talk to these nine to 15 year olds about drugs, gangs, and bullying to know their choices have consequences.

"They get up and hang out with the wrong kids, get on the wrong street corners, do the wrong activities guess where they're going to end up one of two places, the jail or a funeral home," said Sproul.

Digging Deeper we learned students as early as third, fourth, an fifth grades are being exposed to drugs, alcohol, and gangs.

"It's important that we keep our hand on these kids and try to guide them through life in a right way," said Lt. Hayes.

Just take some of the counselors for example, Jaleesa Coe's been coming to CHAMPS Camp since 2000, she's now a student at Albany Tech and sharing her stories with other kids.

"To tell them that there are a lot of programs out there to keep them off the streets and to show them a good way of life and show them all the gang banging, drugs is not a good way to go," said Jaleesa Coe, CHAMPS Counselor.

Older students are encouraged to mentor younger participants in hopes both will continue to make good choices and not get involved in crime.>

The camp is just in the second of the six week camp. I can attest these kids are having a lot of fun and they're learning important life lessons along the way.

The CHAMPS camp runs Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM until 5:30 PM.

The Sheriff's office partnered with Dougherty County School Police, Phoebe's Network of Trust Nurses, Albany Police Americorps Cadets, and numerous businesses and organizations to make it happen.

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