GREEN If you were out at Boettler Park the first week in June you might have noticed a group of teens running around in black uniforms or camouflaged fatigues. What you saw were students from Green and the Portage Lakes Career Center taking part in Camp Reliance, an annual summer outing sponsored by the Summit County Sheriff's Department.
This program has been going on for 10 years and was originally done in conjunction with Green ROTC. Last year, however, the ROTC backed out of the program, leaving it solely under the direction of the Sheriff's Department, which works with Green Local Schools.
The camp is under the direction of Dep. Todd Hart, Green Local's resource officer. Last year, Hart opened the program up to the students in the PLCC's fire program, along with students from Green Middle School. Twelve students took part in last years camp, with seven of them returning this year. In addition, 11 new students signed up. Helping Hart out were deputies Jeff Bennet, Paul Wright and Dave Fatheree. Former camp attendees who now help out included Rachael Rininger, Kris Payne, Joey Salser, and Abby Baehr, who took vacation time from her job and college to help.
The camp is designed to take the students out of their comfort zone. The students did not have access to any electronic devices and lived in tents in which they set up themselves. They had no contact with home (other than in case of an extreme emergency). Participants are given a daily food ration of either military Meals Ready To Eat (MREs) or Humanitarian Daily Rations (HDRs). Other meals are provided during the week, including a final steak, potatoes and corn supper the last night of the camp, with cake.
An important part of the camp was learning to follow instructions such as having safety glasses when hiking, changing socks daily, proper foot care, having their rations available as needed and never going anywhere without their "battle buddy." The most important thing they had to follow was to keep constantly hydrated as they sweated out large amounts of fluids during exercises and hiking. Known as "forced hydration," participants had to drink a canteen of water in a specific period of time. When it came time to check, they held out their canteens and there was any water left in them, they had to upend the canteen over their heads. One or two cold showers like this was usually enough to convince the students to follow this instruction. Other infringements might mean doing group calisthenics such as pushups, "lean and rest," or the "dead cockroach" exercise.
During the week, the students did a lot of marching, including a six-mile hike from the camp to the National Guard training facility at Akron-Canton Airport. In addition, there was daily physical training (PT) classes on fire starting, self defense taught by Summit County Sheriff's deputies, outdoor safety, land navigation, first aide taught by Green Paramedics and, most importantly, team building exercises. Many of these built on each other and came together during their finals days at the camp.
For the students, the week was challenging, especially to the new and younger students. For many, it was the first time they had ever been separated from their families and under stressful conditions. Yet, many learned new coping skills and actually found out they enjoyed the camp. Blake Crago, Jace Richards, Nick Davis and Logan Kazar all enjoyed the "night ops." Team building were the favorites of Hunter Moser, Austin Elkins and Zach Gable.
They also found things that they didn't like. For example, the marching, P.T. and exercises were not high on the favorite list for Brooke Ward, Ashley Ford, Jordon White and Jacob Kruszewski. But exposed to all this also made them appreciate the simpler things in life.
Tony Musci, Anne Hayes, Jack Gordon, and Patience Rose all looked forward to getting home and taking a long, hot shower and getting some well deserved sleep. Surprisingly, food did not seem to be much on their minds this year, though, Mike Fisher looked forward to some chicken wing while Charlie Christian was hungry for pizza and Robby Charles wanted Taco Bell.
At graduation, each student received a diploma and four cadets received special awards. Anne Hayes was selected for the Leadership Award while Jordon White was picked as Most improved Cadet. Nick Davis received the Most Unusual Injury Award while Michael Fisher was chosen as Top Cadet and received a specially engraved World War II canteen.
The camp was a community effort and supported not only by the Summit County Sheriff's Department but Green Parks, Green Fire, and the Ohio National Guard. In particular, Green Paramedics stopped in each day to make sure the kids were healthy, and at night sheriff's deputies helped provide security, allowing the staff to get some much needed rest.