They run. They get up early. They learn what it’s like to train to be a police officer. The RCMP’s core values are instilled in them over a one-week period.
And they learn how to make a bed.
Applications are still being accepted for Grade 11 and 12 high school students aged 16 to 18 throughout the Okanagan Valley for the 16th annual Jean Minguy Memorial RCMP Youth Academy April 26 to May 2 at the Vernon Army Camp.
Const. Kathy Szoboticsanec, with the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP detachment, is one of the camp organizers and instructors.
She could write a book, she said, on the success stories of campers over 15 previous years.
“The most rewarding part of this, for me, is kids that come back a year or two after the academy, and a lot of things we did at the camp have become lifestyle choices,” said Szoboticsanec.
“They continue to run every day, or they’ve embarked on a fitness program. I don’t think many of them continue to make their beds everyday, though.”
The initial vision of the academy, said Szoboticsanec, was to be a starting point for potential police officers.
Life at Regina’s depot for would-be RCMP officers was to be mimicked in the one-week event at the army camp.
But the academy, which partners with the Vernon School District, has become so much more.
“You get a one-week experience that will follow you for the rest of your lives in terms of your own personal development,” said Tom Williamson, district career co-ordinator for the Vernon School District.
“This is one of the best career programs we offer.”
Besides living life as a possible police officer, or acquiring skills that will help them in whatever career path they choose, successful applicants get four credits toward their Grade 12 marks.
“We try to instill accountability, responsibility and honesty, the core values that the RCMP maintain,” said Szoboticsanec.
“It’s a very intense camp. We have high expectations but in those expectations, there is nothing we don’t think the students can accomplish.”
The academy takes a minimum of 40 applicants from throughout the Okanagan. Last year was the largest in the camp’s history with 54 students taking part.
Organizers received 75 applications.
The cost for the camp, if you’re a Vernon School District student, is $150 which includes a training suit, T-shirts, meals and a one-week stay at the historic Vernon Army Camp.
“Where else do you get to sleep with Second World War blankets?” joked Williamson.
“The school district will pay $100. If a student can’t afford it, they get helped. We don’t turn anybody away because they can’t afford it.”
Applications for the academy are available on the school district website, www.sd22.bc.ca. The entry deadline is Friday, Feb. 6.
Jean Minguy was a Vernon RCMP officer who served as an instructor at the academy when it opened in 1998.
He died in the line of duty in 2005 and the academy was renamed in his memory.