• 64°

Students see another side of law enforcement at Sheriff’s Office camp

Checking the fit

Mary Rosser with the Pedal Factory helps fit a helmet on Danni Moore. Powles Staton Funeral Home in Rockwell donated 60 bicycle helmets to the Rowan County Sheriff's Office's Youth Leadership Camp. Tuesday morning, the 28 campers involved in the program's July session learned about bicycle safety. Rebecca Rider/Salisbury Post

Mary Rosser with the Pedal Factory helps fit a helmet on Danni Moore. Powles Staton Funeral Home in Rockwell donated 60 bicycle helmets to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office’s Youth Leadership Camp. Tuesday morning, the 28 campers involved in the program’s July session learned about bicycle safety. Rebecca Rider/Salisbury Post

By Rebecca Rider


GRANITE QUARRY — When Alana Carlyle pulls up to the stop sign on a bike, deputy Tommy Cato holds the handle bars, keeping its rider stabilized while she signals a right turn — left arm out and bent at a 90 degree angle. Danny Lindley, monitoring the stop, asks her to show a left turn, a stop and a right turn again.

When he’s satisfied, he gives her a thumbs-up, and Cato pushes her forward, running beside the bike and helping her balance as she weaves through the obstacle course in Erwin Middle School’s parking lot. Soon, he lets go, and Carlyle is coasting on her own. As she pulls up to a clump of other campers she hops off the bike and unclips her helmet.

“I rode a bike,” she yells.

“Even if we didn’t get nothing else today, we got that right there,” Lindley said.

Carlyle is one of 28 children participating in the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office’s Youth Leadership Camp. During the week, campers attending the free event will learn about a number of subjects from deputies — Tuesday’s topic was bicycle safety.

Each camper was given a bicycle helmet of their own — donated by Powles Staton Funeral Home in Rockwell, which provided 60 helmets for two of the camp’s sessions — and then took to a bicycle obstacle course set up by Salisbury’s the Pedal Factory. Bicycles for Tuesday’s activity were also provided by the Pedal Factory. Helmets for the first session were funded through a grant from N.C. Department of Transportation.

Getting students outside and moving is one of the camp’s goals, camp organizer Deputy William Walker said.

“A lot of kids nowadays are stuck inside all day,” he said.

With fun field trips like a day at Blue Waters Pool, Discovery Place, Dan Nicholas Park or Lazy Five Ranch, the camp keeps kids active and curious.

But its other main goal is to let campers meet, and get to know, their local law enforcement. Many children don’t have a context for law enforcement outside of arrests, Walker said — the youth leadership camp seeks to break that.

“It’s an opportunity for them to have a positive interaction,” he said.

Deputies who work the camp don’t dress in uniform. They wear shorts and camp t-shirts, just like the students. And nearly all of the staff are also school resource officers.

In fact, that’s one reason the camp exists.

During the school year, the deputies spend all their time with students and are cut free for the nine weeks of summer when they’re assigned to other projects with the Sheriff’s Office. But three years ago, Walker wondered if they couldn’t do something positive for students over the summer.

“I just thought it would be kind of neat if we done something with kids,” he said.

And school resource officers are familiar with children and love working with them, why not continue that? That first year, the free camp had two week-long sessions, and was funded by a grant from the Robertson Foundation. The second year, Walker added a week, allowing 30 more children to participate.

“I guess word of mouth, and it kind of gets out.” He said.

The 2016 camps are funded by a $6,000 grant from the Salisbury Community Foundation, and Walker said grants help him keep the camps free — which can open opportunities for children from low-income families.

“As long as I can find grants to do it, I’d like to keep this camp free,” he said.

Walker said a lot of people think that the camp is just for “bad” kids, because it follows the Gang Resistance Education and Training program — a nationwide federal program that deals with issues of bullying and juvenile delinquency. But Walker said the camp is for anyone, and if it keeps some kids with mischievous inclinations occupied during the summer, that’s a bonus.

“I think it’s an opportunity for them to have something positive to do,” he said.

And the campers attending this week’s session at Erwin Middle quickly adapted to the presence of law enforcement officers, folding them into their groups and games.

“I think it’s pretty cool that the policemen do this for us,” camper Hunter wall said.

Campers taking a break from the heat in Erwin’s gym invited deputies into their games of hula-hoop and jump rope while a group started up a round of dodge ball. Wall said the camp has been fun, and has helped him break out of his shell.

“I used to not be social but now I’m making new friends,” he said.

“It’s awesome,” Connor Yon said.

There are still a few openings for camp’s third session, to be held Aug. 8-12 in China Grove. The camps cap at 30 students, and Walker said that there was a 12-person waiting list for the second session.

For more information contact Deputy Walker at 704-278-9233 or by e-mailing william.walker@rowancountync.gov

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.



Blotter: Four charged with contributing to neglect of minor


Umami Downtown aims to bring bold flavors to Main Street


RSS Board of Education discusses latest draft of school justice partnership

China Grove

Touting experience, Don Bringle looks to retain seat on China Grove Town Council


Jury selection begins in trial of man charged with killing father

High School

High school football: Freeman a surprise weapon for Hornets


North Carolina’s $25 reward helped boost COVID vaccinations


RSS makes masks optional, plans to revisit decision in November


Rowan, Cabarrus, Stanly GOP host U.S. Senate forum in Gold Hill for registered Republicans only


Juvenile shot Saturday expected to make full recovery


Blotter: Homeless man jailed after throwing rocks through woman’s front door


Political Notebook: Rowan County elections supervisor speaks out after debate to replace him


Blotter: Kannapolis man charged with involuntary manslaughter

Ask Us

Ask Us: What are current enrollment numbers for Rowan-Salisbury Schools?


Airplane makes emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham Airport


Race-blind redistricting? Democrats incredulous at GOP maps


‘Stories behind these squares’: Town of Cleveland unveils country’s barn quilt mural, trail


Mayoral candidates Alexander, Heggins discuss ‘Fame,’ protesting, pandemic


Supporters of former Knox assistant principal speak up after resignation


Volunteers focus on South Ellis Street for 11th annual BlockWork program


Accounting firm to present annual school district audit report Monday


Rowan Rockhounds Composite Youth Mountain Bike Team meetings set


Faith briefs: Barbecue fundraiser, harvest festival set for Nov. 6


A hidden gem on Highway 29, Fusion Salon celebrates more than 15 years in business