Sheriff’s Academy for Youth provides week of fun and a look into public safety

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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The Troup County Sheriff’s Office’s annual Sheriff’s Academy for Youth (SAY) entered its second week on Monday. The camp is provided each year in partnership with local public safety agencies and Troup County Parks and Recreation.

The SAY camp is divided into two age groups each year, with nine and 10-year-olds taking the first week and kids ages 11 through 12 attending the following week.

Monday’s adventures included a trip to the Troup County Fire Department followed by an excursion to Red’s 2 Skate Center.

Sgt. Stewart Smith, who runs the camp each year, said the fire department and other partner agencies like the Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Department of Natural Resources usually visit the kids at the camp. Still, this year they decided to bring kids to the firehouse because it was on the way to the roller rink.

The kids were also visited by Sheriff James Woodruff, who encouraged the middle school group to make good choices in who they listen to and hang out with as not to end up like the inmates in the jail.

Smith said Woodruff has always been a big supporter of the program dating back to when he ran the camp as a deputy.

The camp serves as a way to let young people connect with deputies, firefighters, and other law enforcement to let them see them as regular people. Often when children interact with law enforcement, it can be in a high-stress situation, so the camp can help kids not fear the police.

The camp also teaches kids some of the ins and out of the sheriff’s office so anyone interested in a career in law enforcement can get a sneak peek.

The kids will visit the Government Center, Great Wolf Lodge, Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari, and the Mike Daniel Recreation Center throughout the week.

Sheriff Woodruff said he and the department want to continue working with young people.

“When I ran for office, my pledge to the community was to try to work with young people to prevent them from making bad mistakes and ending up in jail. The Sheriff’s Academy for Youth is just another way that we’ve been doing that, where we spend time with these young men and women and show them what we do, show them our side of the world and our side of our job and incorporate fun with that,” Woodruff said. “When they walk away, hopefully, they’ll have a better respect for law enforcement and we will have a better understanding of each other and it will improve community relations.”