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SCSO camp teaches kids how to handle bullying

Jamey Vicars • Jun 23, 2019 at 2:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sgt. Steve Hinkle Bully Boot Camp saw 46 kids gather at the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office Training Center Thursday for the last day of the three-day camp.

Formally called Camp Take-a-Stand, it was renamed after the late Sgt. Steve Hinkle, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year.

The camp was started in 2011 by Chief Deputy Lisa Christian as a response to media reports of mass shootings and teen suicides. The camp focuses on several topics relating to bullying and provides lessons, activities and trips. The kids attending were third- through fifth-graders In Sullivan County Schools.

“We have a variety of kids here. Some are bullies and some are being bullied,” Capt. Melissa Copas said. “Most of the kids we have are from SROs or school guidance counselors that think they need to come.”

Copas said the camp teaches the kids how to handle being bullied and how to report it, along with self-esteem and how to stand up for themselves and other kids.

The camp was held Tuesday through Thursday and featured physical training, yoga, field trips to Bays Mountain Park, movies and more.

The last day of the camp was a day of fun, with a few lessons mixed in. The kids enjoyed bouncing and sliding on inflatables in the morning, followed by a K-9 demonstration. Later, they were treated to a lesson in the basics of jujitsu, while the day came to an end with graduation and a lesson on cyberbullying focused on social media.

“We usually do a cookout and fun day on the last day to let the kids have some fun,” Copas said.

The camp grew this year, with 46 children in attendance, and organizers are looking to continue that growth.

“We would like to expand next year, but it is all about resources. It’s something we’re looking into,” Copas said. “Of course, none of this could be done without the community. All of this is done through donations.”

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