HOLMDEL, N.J. – On Friday, August 18th, at 3:30 PM, in Holmdel's Senior Center, a proud crowd gathered to witness the graduation ceremony for 40 young girls and boys who had just completed The Holmdel Township Police Department Youth Academy Camp. This was the second week in a row for a total of 80, as the first group of 40 students graduated the previous week in Holmdel.
The ceremony opened with The Pledge of Allegiance and The United States of America's National Anthem, followed by an overview of the program by Holmdel Police Chief John Mioduszewski. The ceremony culminated with Chief Mioduszewski passing out the graduating certificates to each of the students as they participated in an official military drill of certificate acceptance. The students held everyone's attention in the audience of nearly 100 family members and friends, as they stood tall and walked proud in their sea of blue Police Youth Academy t-shirts, all moving in the way they were trained to do during the course.
How did they get to this point? Perhaps they heard about this really great camp where you can make new friends and get to do really cool things, like ride in a police car, or learn how to track down criminals. Or maybe it was the question, "So, what do you want be when you grow up?" Now, that’s a question a child often hears. Many think they might like to be a teacher, a business owner, an accountant, a craftsman, a medical or legal professional. Some aspire to do just what mommy and daddy does every day. It's an incredible world of opportunity! Such is the precious gift of life and learning as little ones and their imaginations run the gamut of opportunities that we are all presented with as we grow up. It is these incredible opportunities that present themselves and in many ways help guide us.
The course embodied the essence of the public service career path that requires selfless dedication to others in the pursuit of community safety and leadership lessons that last a lifetime. That is, law enforcement and related services designed to help protect the public, help others and keep us safe.
Holmdel Mom Dina Chasey Schultz says, "The Holmdel Police Youth Academy Camp provides such a wonderful event filled program for our kids. Our daughter has learned so much about law enforcement and public safety in just one week and comes home everyday so excited to talk all about her experiences. Our son Chase can't wait until he turns 9 so he can have a chance to experience the camp too."
The program is annual and offers young children the unique opportunity to see, act and feel what it is like to be an officer of the law. The rules, the training, the responsibility and the incredible dedication it takes to be one of the few brave men and women who carve out a career of public service to others and place their lives on the line for their fellow citizens on a daily basis.
Eleven year old Divya Subramanian said, "My favorite part of the camp was tracking down the criminals. I had such a great time and I really want to do the camp again next year." Her 9 year old brother Arjun chimed in, "I had such a great time and my favorite part was learning about gun safety and shooting the guns." (Paint guns of course) Something to note; the children all seemed so happy, there were lots of hugs and group pictures and a lot of talk about so many of the kids making new friends in the camp. Ava Cherchio, age 11 said, "I had such a great time I definitely want to do the camp again next year and my favorite part was working with the K-9's!"
Part of learning what you want to do "when you grow up" is based on experiences that are developed at home, at play and at school and perhaps in really great programs that truly engage the interest and broaden the thinking of children. Let’s share some fantastic background on this nationwide program for children ages 9-12, held every August. Below are details illustrated on the Holmdel Police Department Website and/or given in an overview at the graduation gathering:
Features of the Academy
The Holmdel Police Youth Academy was first held in the summer of 2000. The academy was designed to give local youth the opportunity to learn respect for the law by providing them with positive interaction during their attendance in the academy, and motivates young people to be outstanding citizens through law enforcement education. It also encourages our young citizens to be partners, not adversaries, in building safer schools and communities. The attendees, the leaders of tomorrow, will be instilled with an appreciation and new found respect for law enforcers and their role in society. The academy has been shown to improve self-esteem, discipline, self-confidence and respect for the attendees and law enforcement. One of the goals of the academy is to familiarize children with the job of a police officer.
Each day at the academy is dedicated to a different topic, such as firearms safety, self-defense, criminal investigations and much more. The Holmdel Township Police K-9 Unit, and the Monmouth County Emergency Response Team (MOCERT) hold demonstrations for the attendees. Military drill and ceremony is held each day and instructed by Holmdel Township Police Department Drill Instructors. The drill and ceremony instill discipline in all attendees. In 2011 a water safety class was added to the schedule, and it was a great success.
Like anything worthwhile, becoming a police officer is not easy. There are a number of obstacles that a police recruit has to clear to obtain the honor of wearing “the badge”, some easy - some difficult. The attendees will understand upon completion, what it takes to succeed as a police officer in this challenging and dangerous profession.
Comments from academy graduates included:
- “I have a better idea of policemen and what they have to do because I attended the police youth academy.”
- “Now I know more about some of the police and why they do what they do."
- “I want the academy to last longer, I had a great time. It was probably the best camp I attended this summer and I attended a lot."
Attending the Academy
The academy is open to boys and girls, ages 9-12. Meals and beverages are provided each day as well as academy shirts, hats and study materials. The Chief of Police, at the graduation ceremony which is held on the last day of the camp presents an award certificate of completion to each attendee. The camp is held for two one week sessions and is limited to 40 attendees for each week, for a total of 80 graduates every summer. The acceptance is on a lottery basis. The academy is traditionally held during two weeks in August. Information will be posted on the department website in May of 2018 for summer 2018. If you would like more information on the Holmdel Township Police Department Youth Academy please email Lieutenant Robert Philhower or call him at 732-946-9690 ext. 1761.
So, there you have it! Now, what do you want to be when you grow up? Well, you may want to put ‘Modern Day Hero’ at the top of the list! The residents in Holmdel know this – you call – they are there immediately – and ready – period.
We say thank you to all who serve and protect!
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