Twelve determined Alberni teens have committed to five days of RCMP Depot Division -like training that will test their mettle to the limit.
The goal? To help them decide whether or not policing is the right career for them.
Officials at the Port Alberni RCMP Detachment announced several months ago they would run the RCMP Youth Camp, a first for the city. However, it is modeled after similar successful programs in places like Prince George, B.C.
The camp allows senior Alberni District Secondary School students who have an interest in pursuing a law-enforcement career – policing, security, conservation – the chance to see what training conditions are like and get some hands-on experience.
Denae Edgar,16, is one of those eager young recruits.
The ADSS student and basketball player says becoming a police officer is “her first career choice.
It’s what I have wanted since I was 11-years-old,” the teen said.
She hopes to go on to university then be recruited into the RCMP after graduation.
Matt McLeod, 16, is also keen to one day join the force.
“They make a big difference in the community,” he said.
All week the teens will be treated as cadets in a depot-like environment. They have sleeping quarters set up at the Port Alberni Black Sheep Rugby Club and will eat, sleep and train together.
They will be taught about the Criminal Code, be introduced to forensic IDent services, perform rigorous physical training such as running and marching, learn police defense tactics and spend a day supervised at the firing range.
Another highlight, an investigator will go through a true recent major crime case with the students. He will lay out the crime, then how the entire investigation unfolded, from interviews to arrests and convictions.
Following their graduation on Thursday, the teens will receive a certificate of completion and have a basic understanding of what policing is about.
“This will tell them whether or not they are suited for the profession,” said Port Alberni RCMP Cpl. Jen Allan, who helped organize the camp, along with RCMP school resource officer Const. Shelly Schedewitz.
The successful candidates, three girls and nine boys, were chosen after a rigorous application process, which included physical testing and a formal interview.
For example, they had to run a half-mile in under 15 minutes, perform a minimum of 15 push-ups in a minute and at least 30 sit-ups in a minute.
“Many of the candidates surpassed our expectations,” Allan said.
The interview-tested candidates for important police officer characteristics: dedication, honesty, integrity and compassion, among others.
Many of the applicants had never been through a formal interview before.
Schedewitz said the camp is a natural extension of career talks she holds at Alberni District Secondary School.
“There are a large number of youth who are interested in policing as a career,” she said.
Greg Freethy, School District 70 teacher and career education co-ordinator, agreed.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to explore the career of policing,” he said. “It’s going to be intense, but they will look back on it as a fun experience.”
Freethy, who knows most of the “cadets,” is the only non-member instructor at the camp.
The camp is worth four work experience credits for participating students.