CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — The Conway Police Department is hoping its summer camp will help reduce gang violence.
Camp G.R.E.A.T. — which stands for Gang Resistance Education and Training — teaches students how to develop coping, negotiation and communication skills, according to Chief Dale Long.
“If it’s one kid that we make a difference in their lives, we will continue to invest in this,” he said.
The camp lasts from June 21 to Aug. 6 and is open for students in the fifth through seventh grades.
Long said the camp is aimed at the age group where students begin to develop their identity.
“We’re really in that good formative years that is really the biggest struggle for them,” Long said.
He believes that working to develop life skills and prevent kids from gang involvement has to be done at an early age.
Jamie White, with the Waccamaw Youth Center in Conway, said action should be taken even earlier.
“Some of them are 8 years old — 10,” White said. “They’re already getting that exposure.”
She said gang violence is on the rise in Conway.
“Going into the school system, if you talk to some of the kids they’re already knowing what gang signs to throw out,” White said.
Long has also seen more gang-related crimes in the area.
While she said Camp G.R.E.A.T. is a step in the right direction, White is calling for the community to get more involved.
“We got to stop it now,” White said.
The camp costs $25, which covers lunch, field trips and a t-shirt. Students are expected to have a graduation ceremony at the end of the program.
Parents can register their children by visiting the Conway Public Safety building or calling (843) 248-1790.