This past week, a group of local sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders got to experience firsthand what police officers have to go through during training during a Police Boot Camp. The event, which ran all week and was held at Robe-Ann Park in Greencastle, was sponsored by the Greencastle Parks and Recreation Department, Greencastle Police Department, Putnam County Sheriff's Department, Putnam County Prosecutor's Office, Indiana State Excise Police, Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and DePauw Public Safety.
"What we hope the kids get is a better understanding of what we do," said Brian Hopkins, GPD assistant chief. "We want to send the message that we're not the bad guys. We try to get that point across, while at the same time teaching them about physical fitness and discipline."
Participants in the camp learned about physical fitness, training, marching, and flag ceremonies. They took part in a K-9, air support and bomb squad demonstrations and a rescue dive.
"We learned about how hard it is to get all the gear on and the different parts of the suits," said 11-year-old Katie Sutherlin.
Other activities included softball, self-defense, a police vehicle car show, relays, cross-country running, team-building exercises and a community service project.
Sutherlin said the main thing she took away from the camp was the importance of teamwork.
"The main thing they taught us mostly was about teamwork," she said. "They taught us how important it was to stick together and support each other while we played our games."
Sutherlin comes by her interest in law enforcement honestly -- her father is Tom Sutherlin, chief of the Greencastle Police Department.
"I've thought about police work a little, but not much," she said. "I thought it would be good to go (to the camp) and support my dad."
Sutherlin said she would do the camp again next year.
"I would like to do it again," she said. "The thing that was, after all the exercises and calisthenics, I was really sore. They were hard. But I enjoyed it."