The first Camp POSTCARD, which stands for Police Officers Striving To Create And Reinforce Dreams, was held in the mid-1990s, thanks to the Volunteers of America Northern New England, the Maine Sheriff's Association and Maine DARE Officer's Association.
The goal of the camp is to give 5th- and 6th-grade boys and girls a stress-free week of fun that also gives them a chance to see law enforcement in a different light.
It's a camp where children come for free for the week building lots of skills, and more importantly, building relationships," said Sheriff Troy Morton of the Penobscot County Sheriff's Office who has volunteered at the camp for a dozen years. "It's a great way for them to interact with law enforcement professionals, volunteers in a camp setting."
More than 75 police officers, sheriff deputies, state troopers, firefighters, EMTs, and volunteers will run the camp in Poland, and this year more than 150 young Mainers are expected to attend. The children are nominated for the camp by teachers, counselors and law enforcement.
"It's a way for those who may not be able to afford to go to camp, who may have some challenges in school, perhaps they've been experienced to some trauma in their lives," Morton said. "Different challenges. And it's a great rewarding experience for them to come see law enforcement in a different light, learn a lot of skills and also, as we all know, summertime in Maine at a camp is just a blast."
The volunteer law enforcement councilors wear shorts and t-shirts throughout the week, but just before the kids head home, they put back on their uniforms in order to say goodbye.
"As much as the children get from this - for those that attend - I think that those who volunteer get just as much out of the experience," Morton said.