HENRICO, Va. (WRIC)– The Richmond Police Athletic League (PAL) hosted its annual summer cookout today, marking the halfway point of its summer camp.
Richmond PAL summer campers headed out to Hadad’s Lake on Osborne Turnpike to swim, have fun and eat burgers and hot dogs.
This year marks the 25th year of the PAL summer camp. Eighty-five children ages six to fourteen were able to experience different activities throughout the camp.
Kingston Dye signed up this year for the first time and was able to go to the cookout as an early birthday gift. Dye is celebrating a birthday tomorrow and he said he’s enjoyed many of the camp activities.
“I went to King’s Dominion two times. I went bowling. I went skating. I played golf yesterday,” Dye said.
Kamille Roots, Dye’s mother, told 8news, she signed her son up for the camp because her brother used to attend.
“They come home and have stories for hours. ‘Mommy we did this. Mommy we did that,’” Roots said.
According to Richmond Police, the camp is an opportunity to build positive relationships with the city’s youth and support them.
Lena and Ross Scott are 13-year-old twins and have signed up every year since the age of six.
“It helped me and my brother get out of our shells,” said Scott. “When I was younger I would think that the police officers were scary but now I’ve built a great relationship with police officers so I feel more comfortable with them.”
Kenia Marte is currently a Richmond Police Officer and has been with the department for more than five years. Marte was the Hispanic Liaison for the city of Richmond. However, after working with children, she wanted to be a school resource officer. She has worked with PAL for three years.
“At the beginning, of course, they’re a little bit uptight because they’re all scared. They’re like ‘Mrs. Marte are you a police officer?’ I’m like yes but don’t worry about it. We can play and do things together,” Marte said.
As the area experiences a rise in violent crime among young people, Marte says she wants a healthy environment for the kids.
“I don’t want them to be afraid of us at all. I want them to know that we’re human just like them and we are here to protect them,” Marte said.
According to the organization, parents can sign their children up for the camp next year beginning in March. The camp lasts for several weeks during the summer.
You can reach out here or email Perry Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call (804)-646-1832.