Photo by Elaine Rackley
Henry County Sheriff Keith McBrayer (center) took 31 youngsters fishing, at Cubihatcha Reservoir in Locust Grove, during Sheriff's Summer Camp week. Sheriff McBrayer was joined by nine deputies, who served as chaperones for the fishing trip. McBrayer started the annual camp last year.
By Elaine Rackley
"I don't know anything about fishing," said 12-year-old Yaleedia Mejias. "This is my first time fishing."
Meejias joined 30 Sheriff's Summer campers recently for an annual fishing outing along the banks of the Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority Cubihatcha Reservoir, in Locust Grove. To her amazement the Ola Middle School student caught four fish.
Meejias grinned from ear to ear, as she held on to her fishing pole, and wrestled with a fish on the other end.
Still, she said the best part about fishing was "putting on the worms and throwing out my fishing line."
The fishing excursion, earlier this month, was one of many activities scheduled for Sheriff's Summer Camp. Prior to their fishing adventure, campers took part in a two-hour CPR course.
The camp began June 13, and ended June 19. Campers were exposed to various aspects of law enforcement throughout the week. They examined sheriff's office duties. There was also a K-9 demonstration, a tour of the 911 Center, crime scene re-enactment, mock trial, and other activities.
"They are excited about fishing," said Henry County Sheriff Keith McBrayer. "Just look at them, they are having a great time."
This is the second year the Henry County Sheriff's Office sponsored the camp. The annual camp is the brainchild of Sheriff McBrayer.
"We had so many parents who wanted to register their children this year for the camp, that we had to add a second camp," said McBrayer. The second camp is scheduled for July 11, through July 15. According to the sheriff, the session is "almost full."
Nine sheriff's deputies escorted the campers to the reservoir. In their talks with the campers, the deputies emphasized making good decisions and staying on the right track in life.
"The main reason I got into law enforcement was to work with the community," said Deputy Matthew Crowell. "The parents know that their children are safe with us, and we are here to help."
Deputy Rick Gaouette taught some of the campers how to fish, cast, and put bait on the hook.
"Out here they can see there is more to life than just video games," said Gaouette.
"I caught one fish. I didn't think I was going to catch anything," said Lavawia Brown, 12, of Dutchtown Middle school. "It was weird because I didn't want to come fishing. I don't like being outside, but it was fun."
Veteran fisher, Leigha Makenna Groover, 14, said she enjoyed laughing at her friends, who were squeamish about holding worms.
"I fish a lot, but I didn't catch anything today," chuckled Groover of Union Grove high school. "I lost my bait."
"I was the first girl to catch a fish today," said Groover's classmate, Hannah Moss, 14.
The Sheriff's Camp fishing trip was the second time Shane Foster, 13, had ever fished. The Henry County Middle school student said he enjoyed the "peacefulness" of fishing.
He said the camp's overall activities exposed him to new opportunities. "You can try different things you've never done before," said Foster, who caught five fish. "We got see how a fire was started in an arson homicide crime scene."
This year was the first time Deputy Jacob Wise worked with the Sheriff's Camp.
"They remind me of my youth," said Wise. "The camp [relieves] me of my everyday stresses of the job."
Sgt. Jimmy Spence works with the sheriff's office Community Relations Division. He helped coordinate the camp.
"The kids keep us straight," said Spence. "We learn about as much from them as they learn from us."
For more information about the second Sheriff's Summer Camp scheduled to start July 11, call (770) 288-7100.