By Brooke McKay, C.O.P.S. Marketing Coordinator
Special Contributor to PoliceOne
Andromeda Haynes and her two children, James and Chandler, feel like they have become part of a really big family — the family of Concerns of Police Survivors — and it all happened at C.O.P.S. Kids Summer Camp.
The camp was held at the Salvation Army Lake Camp in East Troy, Wisconsin, July 26-August 1, 2010. C.O.P.S. Kids Summer Camp is for the surviving children ages 6-14 and their parent or legal guardian of America’s fallen law enforcement heroes killed in the line of duty. This year 229 campers attended camp; there were 135 surviving children and 94 surviving parents or guardians. Also helping make summer camp a success were 16 mentors (13 are sworn law enforcement officers, one surviving adult child, and two law enforcement wives), 13 mental health professionals, and seven others to help the camp run smoothly.
This summer was the first time Andromeda and her children had attended C.O.P.S. Kids Camp. Her husband, Lance Corporal James Haynes with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, was killed in the line of duty on February 1, 2008. “Concerns of Police Survivors to me is what a real family is about, having these types of retreats and camps brings together people who understand what you are going through. It allows us to relate to someone who truly understands,” stated Andromeda.
Summer camp provides family interaction, camp activities, grief counseling, relaxation, and lots of old-fashioned fun. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held sessions for archery, canoeing, pellet guns, 22 rifles, fishing, and t-shirt making for the kids. The staff at the camp facility provided high ropes and low ropes courses, swimming lessons, and a nature hike. “The kids enjoyed all the activities. My 8-year-old son got first place with the pellet guns and caught a fish… which may seem small to some, but it meant so much to him and really helped his self esteem,” said Andromeda.
Concerns of Police Survivors’ mission is to “rebuild shattered lives” of the surviving family members and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. In addition to C.O.P.S. Kids Summer Camp, C.O.P.S. hosts a wilderness experience for surviving teenagers and weekend retreats for adult children, parents, siblings, spouses, in-laws, and affected co-workers of fallen officers.
“The impact of how C.O.P.S. can help your children emotionally and physically is amazing. C.O.P.S. is a wonderful, loving organization; one that will embrace you in your time of need. An extended family… that’s what it is,” concluded Andromeda.
C.O.P.S. is a national, nonprofit organization with 51 chapters throughout the United States. C.O.P.S.’ membership is comprised of more than 15,000 surviving families; and, unfortunately, that membership continues to grow as 140-160 law enforcement officers are killed every year in the line of duty.
The majority of funding for the 2010 C.O.P.S. Kids Summer Camp came from Law Enforcement United’s inaugural ride. Law Enforcement United is a new organization of Federal, State, and Local law enforcement officers, as well as civilian support members, who made a 250-mile bicycle journey, dubbed the Road to Hope, from Chesapeake, Virginia, to Washington, DC. LEU’s first contribution to C.O.P.S. was for $110,000; which represents more than 2/3 of the total cost for the camp.
Visit www.nationalcops.org for more information on the organization and the programs offered to America’s surviving law enforcement families.