Every year around this time, a bevy of cops’ kids get to travel to a camp for a week-long retreat with full attention on them. Each kid of a cop is accompanied by a parent or guardian. Unfortunately, the qualifying parent who can not attend is the very reason kids are eligible for this annual venue: their law enforcement officer mom or dad was killed in the line of duty. Thus the inherent purpose is to turn a vastly traumatic event into a capsule whereby cops’ kids are counseled, nurtured, and given cart blanche treatment while nestled in nature. This year, the Salvation Army Wonderland Camp & Conference Center located in Camp Lake, Wisconsin serves as the venue.
The renowned Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) organization foots the bill and oversees the Kids Camp running from July 8th-14th.
Albeit tragic, all cops’ kids attending Kids Camp share a sole, endemic relatedness: a parent fallen in the line of duty for which kid-gloves experiences are provided to all youngsters ranging in ages 6-14. The cadre of cops’ kids arrive on a luxury charter bus with all the accorded comforts and special treatment they deserve, including a full-escort by a mixed-department police motorcade.
Escort to cops kids camp 2018 #1 #ckc2018
Posted by Adam Gracyalny on Sunday, July 8, 2018
After a well-deserved grandstanding arrival, what is in store for the cops’ kids and parent/guardian accompaniments? The C.O.P.S. organization reports a full range of activities to include “family interaction, camp activities, grief counseling, relaxation and lots of old-fashioned fun! Campers will have the opportunity to attend age appropriate grief counseling sessions and participate in activities such as: swimming, fishing, arts and crafts, canoeing, ropes courses, archery, shooting sports and campfire skits.”
Writing for Milwaukee’s Fox6Now.com, Evan Peterson reports: “Several hundred kids and their parents fly in from across the country to participate in the camp in the Village of Salem Lakes” in Wisconsin this year. The venue changes to keep things fresh and exploratory.
When it is all said and done, the goal is “for campers to leave the week with a continuing support system of peers who truly understand and gain a sense of personal growth with hope for the future.” In that regard, C.O.P.S. receives donations year-round so as to adequately fund such a program, just one among others they offer police family survivors.
Ultimately, the gift of Kids Camp is best explained by fallen cops’ children attending the camp and forging bonds whereby like-minded youngsters and surviving police spouses are afforded an ideal opportunity among an exactly alike demographic which continues to endure deeply tragic loss.
“This helped me in the best possible way. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends,” 14-year-old Moriah Edwards shared with the media. Edwards lost her police officer dad to a line-of-duty death (LODD) years ago. With an exuberant and glad-to-be-here spirit, Edwards explained the wide variety of activities at Kids Camp: “Tubing, fishing, jet skiing. The [police] officers will take you out on their jet ski. We have canoeing, archery, 22s, pistols, BB guns. There’s so many things you can do.” After jetting-in from Michigan, you can feel her excitement and verve for the week’s activities among old and new friends.
C.O.P.S. headquarters is located in Camdenton, Missouri and operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization subsisting by grants and donations. In addition to the yearly Kids Camp venture, C.O.P.S. also caters peer support, survivor benefits, counseling programs, and scholarships for police survivors.
Young Moriah Edwards’ mom Shannon Edwards coined the value of C.O.P.S. in one sentence: “I tell everybody now that C.O.P.S. saved us. We were lost.” From the sounds of it, C.O.P.S. provides ample back-up. She receives guidance and assurance regarding death benefits as well as guaranteed scholarship assistance for her and 14-year-old daughter Moriah.
As delineated among C.O.P.S. materials, other programs are offered as all-inclusive venues such as Fiancés/Significant Others Retreat, Parents Retreat, and Adult Children’s Retreat along with several others. Formed in 1984 with a contingent of 110 members, C.O.P.S. is now a law enforcement family consisting of 47,000-plus survivors with 50 chapters throughout America. As the C.O.P.S. motto goes: “There is no membership fee to join C.O.P.S., for the price paid is already too high.”
No matter how we categorize it: blue family, extended family, cop family, police family, the common denominator is family…all of whom turn tragedy into solidarity much like their lost loved ones did while in service.