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      Summer camp keeping kids off streets, out of trouble

      C.H.A.M.P.S. Camp -- Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety " has been providing children ages six through 15 with an entertaining outlet for six weeks out of the summer.

      Camp is fun and we go to the gym and play volleyball. Sometimes we go swimming and on Friday we do movies, says C.H.A.M.P.S. Camper Karli Hayes.

      We do a lot of amazing things. We play basketball, we go outside and play football sometimes and we play dodgeball sometimes, says C.H.A.M.P.S. Camper 11-year-old Keshawn Barney.

      Over the six weeks, the kids compete in teams at a variety of challenges to earn points and become the C.H.A.M.P.S. Camp Champions.

      C.H.A.M.P.S. Camp is also a place where the children can stay off of the streets and away from trouble.

      We'd rather them be in a controlled environment, a supervised environment so we know they're not getting into mischief, they're not committing crimes, they TMre not being victimized as well, says Lt. Terron Hayes with the Dougherty County Sheriff TMs Office.

      Parents say a controlled, positive environment is exactly where they want their kids to be at during the summer.

      I thought with the DC sheriff's office, that'd be the place for him to be, says Debra Hooks, parent of a first-time C.H.A.M.P.S. camper. They teach them a lot of positive things and how to deal with gangs and peer pressure.

      No matter what age the kids are, the message local law enforcement stresses to them at CHAMPS Camp is getting through.

      We learn about no drugging | not to do drugs, not walking on the street, not gun shooting, says 8-year-old Kirsten Hayes.

      We want to teach our kids not to become a statistic and not to add to statistics as far as crime and violence, says Hayes.

      Hayes attributes the C.H.A.M.P.S. Camp program TMs longevity to the enthusiasm of families and kids but also to the help of their sponsors: the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office, the Albany Police Department, Phoebe Network of Trust, the Dougherty County School System, the DCSS Police Department, the Albany Police Dept. AmeriCorps and Albany State University. Hayes says it is a "collaboration of individuals coming together for a common cause and that's our kids."

      C.H.A.M.P.S. Camp began May 31 and will end Friday, July 8. Kids keep busy from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; for a small fee, an extended day service is offered for parents who work early or get off work later in the afternoon. Lunch and bus transportation is provided at no cost. If you would like more information on C.H.A.M.P.S. Camp, contact Lt. Terron Hayes at (229) 344-4363 or (229) 431-2169.

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