For PA State Police, holding Camp Cadet is about teaching kids lessons and planting a seed for a future in law enforcement. And for the cadets, it’s a fully-immersive six-day camp away from home. It’s about discipline, respect and self- confidence.
Isaac Mearkle, a 13-year-old cadet, said, “I feel like I’m more responsible now.” He is one of 65 cadets at this year’s Camp Cadet, run by the PA State Police. It’s the 26th year of the camp, which takes kids ages 12 – 15 and puts them in a paramilitary environment for one week. The cadets have classes and seminars all week, ranging from K9 demonstrations to working through a simulated trauma scene.
Trinity Faupel, a 12-year-old cadet, said, “I wanted a challenge. Because I like the outdoors and stuff and I mess around with my brothers all the time and play, and so I just decided I wanted a challenge.”
Many cadets say their favorite part of camp is the obstacle course. With multiple physical challenges like rope climbs and wall climbs, it’s not for the faint of heart.
“We want them to learn about overcoming obstacles and try to make it a life lesson. They might have to overcome obstacles in their life also, and its something we hope will stay with them forever as they go through the challenges of life,” said Pennsylvania State Trooper Dave McGarvey.
But as challenging as the course is, the cadets also learn what it’s like to support each other and be supported.
“When it gets difficult at some parts, it just feels better when they’re encouraging you and it just helps you pull through the challenges,” said Mearkle.
All of the lessons the cadets learn culminate on Friday, when friends and family members get to watch their cadet graduate.
“It gives me a little goose bumps whenever they do their cadence and march across the field and their parents are so proud of them,” said Trooper McGarvey. The camp is free to the cadets, but he says they have to want to be there.
“I can do anything I put my mind to,” Faupel said.