SMYRNA – A group of kids from all across the county said farewell to staff members and friends at Camp Thompson on Thursday, the last day of the 16th Annual Chenango County Sheriff’s Camp.
The five-week summer camp is free for area kids ages 9-12 and draws students from nine school districts.
Eating lunch around a picnic table shared by chatting teen volunteers, several energized younger campers and a few staff members, 16-year-old volunteer Michaela Reynolds reflected on how she first joined the program seven years ago.
“I started coming when I was 9, and I’ve been coming back every year since,” said Reynolds, whose duties now include keeping the youths on task. “When I first came here I didn’t really know anybody because none of the kids were really from my school, but by the time I left a week later, I had so many friends.”
Reynolds said she kept in touch with those friends after her first year, motioning to others across the picnic table.
Eager to share his experience, 10-year-old Brandon Shimer can barely keep from blurting out his excitement.
“I like playing four-square, I liked the helicopter – it was so cool. It flew right down over there. I like the police dog. They had this guy in a suit get attacked by the dog and we watched. It was cool. Later we’re going to go on the slip-n-slide,” he said in the fewest amount of breaths possible. Brandon has been coming to Sheriff’s Camp since he was three – his father Jim “the Cook” Shimer helped to organize the first program and heads the Chenango County Correctional Facility’s kitchen when he’s not at the camp.