POLICE ATHLETIC LEAGUE (PAL) CAMP
Every summer the APD Communities Service Division manages a 4 week long camps designed especially for “at risk” youth entering the 8th or 9th grade ages 12-14. The activities are designed to build character, leadership, trust and responsibility through a variety to activities. Attendees are also introduced to the Hometown Recruiting Program and police career opportunities. Funds from the Arlington Police Foundation help to support the cost of camp. Learn more about the PAL program: http://www.arlington-tx.gov/police/police-athletic-league-pal-camp/
2019 Summer Pal Camp
The Police Activities League Summer Camps are held throughout the using indoor facilities at Trinity United Methodist Church and the Trinity Sports Foundation Soccer fields located next to the church at 1200 West Green Oaks Boulevard. Activities include both indoor sports like basketball and volleyball along with many outdoor sports. The kids get to meet and spend time with one of APDs specially trained horses to get a better understanding of how they help to protect our community. This is just a small part of the opportunities the PAL Camp provides, but what is most important is the relationships that are built between the kids and the APD officers.
During a special interview with Officer Thomas McLeod we can learn first hand why the PAL program is so important and why we are so proud to be a financial contributor to this very worthy program.
My name is Thomas McLeod and I’ve been an Arlington Police Officer for just over 15 years, and I have been in the School Resource Unit* for just about 6 and a half years. This is my 4th year running the Arlington Police PAL Camp, but I have participated in it every year. PAL stands for Police Activities League. It is an opportunity for junior high kids (generally going from the 7th to 8th grade and from the 8th grade into 9th grade) to be able to come together. * Find our more about the School Resource Unit here: https://www.arlingtontx.gov/cms/One.aspx?portalId=14481146&pageId=14990003
It’s a weeklong camp we put on from about 8:30am-3: 30 pm every day. It’s an opportunity for these kids to have some fun and be able to see police officers without a uniform. It’s an opportunity for us, as cops, to build some great relationships with them. They see us in the schools but they see us in uniform enforcing laws and typically not getting the opportunity to interact with the students the way we wish we could all the time.
Here however, we get to have some fun with them, hang out, play some games and show them that police officers are human beings too. It shows them that when we are outside of the uniform we also like to have some fun. We hope they think, “Hey if I stay out of trouble, go to school and do well maybe I can become a police officer too.”
Overall it’s a way for us to interact with the community, build some community policing, and build better relationships with the kids so when we are in the school these kids will feel more comfortable talking to us. Maybe they’ll let us know about some issues going on at home, or criminal activity they know of. Most important, we want them to be able to trust us.
Every officer you see here work in the schools. I get to meet around 150 kids a year, around 40 kids per camp and I spend time with all of them. So, hopefully they will remember me when I’m in their school or on the street. I get to build a positive relationship with these kids. I would not want to do anything else other than working with these kids.
Comments from Cora, a 15 year old attending the 2019 PAL Summer Camp:
This is my second year to attend he PAL Camp. I love the encouragement, working as a team, getting along with everyone & supporting each other. WE PUT PEOPLE UP, NOT DOWN and have a lot of fun. Before I came here I did not have a lot of friends and I was not good at working with other people. But here I work better with other people and interact more. MY FAVORITE PART IS BEING WITH THE OFFICERS!