Sheriff’s Camp Continues, Despite Losing Its Leader

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(Host) This week, the Sheriff’s Department in Grand Isle is continuing a camping tradition that instills good values in local kids. The camp holds special meaning this year because of the recent death of its founder Sheriff Connie Allen. VPR’s Kirk Carapezza has more.

(Carapezza) When Connie Allen became one of Vermont’s few female sheriffs nine years ago, one of the first things she did was create the Sheriff’s R & R Camp. That’s Respect and Responsibility. The camp strives to make kids better citizens by asking them to overcome their fears.

Deputy Scott Rogers is the camp director. He says the department is under emotional stress because of Allen’s apparent suicide, but they wanted to go ahead with the camp anyway. He says there’s no better way to honor Allen.

(Rogers) "I think it also helps in the healing process not only for the staff but also in the community."

Inside the Folsom School gym in South Hero, about 50 kids from all five towns within the county are divided up into "squads." They’re designing logos for their group flags.

(Counselor) "So let’s mark out the colors. Then we’ll go down to the table and you can start marking your flag. Camper) Yes! Painting time!"

(Carapezza) Over the course of the week, these kids will be challenged physically and mentally. They’ll do team building exercises and also some and hiking and white-water rafting.

(Jacoby) "Connie, thanks for all the fun things you have planned for us. We will miss you."

(Carapezza) Sarah Jacoby works part-time for the Sheriff’s Department. Outside the gym, she’s reading comments kids wrote on a poster.

(Jacoby) "Connie, we will all miss you. You made this community a better place."

(Carapezza) Jacoby knew Allen since she was 16-years-old.

(Jacoby) "I watched her grow into this person who tried to take care of everybody. She believed in community policing."

(Carapezza) And Jacoby says Allen infused this camp with that ideal.

(Jacoby) "Because she loved kids so much. You know, she really wanted to get to know the kids on the islands and what better way to do it."

(Carapezza) So on Friday, the last day of camp, kids from across Grand Isle County will learn about first-responders. In the summer heat, they’ll take rides in police boats, they’ll do fire hose drills, and they’ll begin to understand the role of law enforcement in the community.

All thanks to Connie Allen.

For VPR News, I’m Kirk Carapezza.

(Host) This week, the Vermont State Police and Governor Shumlin have begun their search for a new Grand Isle Sheriff.

Connie Allen’s Facebook memorial page

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