San Bernardino police take at-risk youth on camping trip

Leticia Juarez Image
Friday, July 20, 2018
San Bernardino police take at-risk girls on camping trip
A group of at-risk girls from San Bernardino got to go camping and boating in the mountains for the Police Activity League's adventure camp.

SILVERWOOD LAKE, Calif. (KABC) -- A three-day camping trip to Silverwood Lake in the San Bernardino mountains was a first for a group of 15 girls

Many of them had never slept in a tent. For 13-year-old September James, Wednesday was the first time she stepped foot into a boat.

"I thought I was going to get seasick," James said. "I've never been on a boat and I wanted to experience tubing."

James is among several teenage girls chosen by the San Bernardino City Unified School District to attend the Police Activity League's adventure camp.

The organization partners at-risk youth with San Bernardino police officers.

"I think it is really good for the kids to see us in this environment because, unfortunately, they see us in an environment that generally isn't great," San Bernardino Police Department Lt. Rob Young said.

The girls are part of the school district's Youth Court Program as either volunteers or offenders. The program helps students involved in minor scraps to get back on track by using peer-on-peer reviews and accountability training.

"Everybody makes mistakes and just because you make a mistake at 12 or 14 doesn't mean the rest of your life should be thrown away," San Bernardino City Unified School District Program Coordinator Mikki Cichocki said.

The camping trip includes setting up a campsite, hiking, cooking, water sports and motivational speeches about how to succeed in life. The idea is to bridge the the gap between officers and youth in the community.

"After this, what we are going to try to do ... is start following up with them, make sure that they remain staying out of trouble, answer any questions," PAL Adventure Camp's Araceli Mata said.

Last week, the Police Activity League took 15 boys on a similar camping trip.