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All Grown Up and Still Coping

C.O.P.S. Outward Bound®

This year’s Outward Bound® experience sponsored by Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) for the surviving children of America’s fallen law enforcement officers took place along the Green River through Cataract Canyon in Canyonlands National Park in Utah on July 26- August 1. The white-water rafting experience is held for teenagers and young adults ages 15-20 and is designed to help them develop outdoor skills, expand their comfort level, and cope with the loss of their parent in the line of duty.

Yaslyn Howey who lost her father, Topeka, KS, Police Officer Jeff Howey, on June 13, 2000, attended C.O.P.S. Kids Summer Camp when she was 14.  She attended C.O.P.S.’ Outward Bound® for 7 years and now comes back as a mentor at the annual Outward Bound® outing. 

Yaslyn says, “Outward Bound® is there for you, even though we’ve grown up, we are still coping (with line-of-duty death of a parent). Outward Bound® is about being a leader, stepping outside your comfort zone. It’s a place where you can learn to take responsibility for yourself.” And for the forty-two surviving children who attended this year along with 5 mentors, the intense conditions did not slow them down. Scorching heat, sleeping on the ground, eating “nature” foods, and giving up the comforts of plumbing, these Outward Bound® adventure-based programs are structured to inspire character development, self-discovery, compassion for others, and to actively engage in creating a better world. C.O.P.S. has been sponsoring this challenging, outdoors event for the past 10 years.

“This year we took a hike called the Loop.  When you get to the top you can see where you came from and where you are going on the river. A neat metaphor for us survivors,” said Howey. 

“The challenge of hiking, climbing and rafting through desolate, beautiful country where the group has to fend for it self does wonders for self-esteem and self-confidence.  Those two attributes seem to be destroyed when one of your parents is killed suddenly, and often violently, in the line of duty,” said C.O.P.S. National President Jennifer Thacker of Louisville, KY.

“Many of the teens in this program have attended the C.O.P.S. Kid’s Summer Camp and have kept up the friendships they have made by staying in touch via telephone, email and face book.  Some of the teens even fly and visit one another during the summer and school vacations,” said Suzie Sawyer, C.O.P.S. Executive Director. “This support network is vitally important to them.”

Concerns of Police Survivors’ (C.O.P.S.) mission is to “rebuild shattered lives” of the surviving family members of law enforcement officers who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. In addition to the Outward Bound® experience, C.O.P.S. hosts a week-long summer camp for younger children and retreats for children, parents, siblings, spouses, and adult children of fallen officers.  Starting in 2010, C.O.P.S. will be holding a retreat for affected co-workers.

C.O.P.S. is a national organization with 48 chapters throughout the United States. C.O.P.S. is a not-for-profit organization with a membership 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.

To obtain more information about C.O.P.S. or its programs, contact www.nationalcops.org or contact Brooke McKay, Marketing Coordinator, Concerns of Police Survivors, P. O. Box 3199, Camdenton, MO  65020; phone:  753-346-4911; email brooke_mckay@nationalcops.org.


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