Teenagers reported an 18% increase in feeling safe and trusting police officers after a four-day Cops & Kids Camp hosted by the Santa Barbara Police Activities League.
The 32 participants joined Santa Barbara police officers at Circle V Ranch Camp for summer activities such as swimming, hiking and skits.
They also learned from workshops such as the Street Smarts Program, which encourages leadership and team-building.
The free camp, which is near Lake Cachuma, gives youth an opportunity to ask questions of police officers and develop mentorships.
The officers also gain insight into today’s teens’ stresses.
“At the core of it is that we care about each other. It gives us the opportunity to learn about each other and learn from each other. It’s as helpful to the officers as it is to the youth who are able to attend,” Lt. Aaron Baker of the Santa Barbara Police Department said in a news release.
SBPAL conducts surveys before and after camp asking participants about their feelings and hopes. The pre-survey results showed higher isolation levels, lack of trust of police and uncertainty about the camp experience.
Post-camp, teens felt more aware of community resources and policing, and they were more comfortable around law enforcement, according to the news release.
“I was very shy, but when I got to PAL, it really helped me open up. It really helped me communicate with new people, with the cops, and get to see their work from a different perspective,” one participant said in the news release.
SBPAL has more information available at sbpal.org.