FRONT ROYAL — Easton Avery was already a fan of law enforcement officers, but his admiration grew stronger after this week's Warren County Sheriff's Office Fun Day.
“I always believed in them as a people,” Avery said.
Avery, 11, and 20 other kids between ages 10-13, took part in several festivities during the camp Wednesday at Skyline Ranch Resort's River Run Campground. Activities included canoeing, a K-9 demonstration and a tactical demonstration complete with flashbangs. The day wrapped up with pizza and ice cream.
“It was fun,” Avery said, adding it might steer him toward becoming a law enforcement officer, but he’s still thinking about it.
Jennifer Avery, Easton’s mother, said she was pleased to send her son to camp because it gave him a chance to be with positive role models and a chance to make friends.
“I do hope that all this helps him make better choices,” she said. “Because he’s 11, and he’s an outgoing kid that likes to get in the middle of it all.”
The day is an opportunity for area children to see deputies outside of their uniforms, which Lt. Robbie Seal said shows they are people like everyone else. He added that the camp is also a way to provide positive role models to kids who may be in difficult family situations.
Seal said that the camp is free thanks to generous community support. The canoes, pizza, facility and ice cream were all donated.
"That's what it's about, building those partnerships," he said.
Seal noted that community support is key as discussions are being held around the country concerning the future of law enforcement. Hopefully, he added, parents will stop telling their kids the police will come if they don't stop acting up — which portrays police in a bad light to kids at an early age.
"We're trying to provide a service and a means for developing our community and providing that ultimate service to develop our children...and really the population as a whole," Seal said.
After 30 years with the Front Royal Police Department, Seal is heading a new Community Policing Unit, with the help of Sgt. Cindy Burke, to build those community partnerships.
“Sheriff [Mark] Butler ... this is one of the things he's big on, was targeting activities we could do for the youth as well as for our seniors in the community,” Seal said.
"It was a great day," said Butler, who joined the kids in the fun.