MPs reach into local community with encouragement for at-risk teens
Sgt. Reynolds Peele introduces a group of young men to Army physical training Saturday morning during the "Back 2 School Campout" at Herring Run Park in Baltimore. Peele was one of several Soldiers from the Army Reserve's 200th Military Police Command Headquarters Company to support the community activity.

Soldiers from the 200th Military Police Command shared a taste of military life with more than 50 elementary and middle-school students at a "Back 2 School Campout" in northeastern Baltimore's Herring Run Park on Friday and Saturday.

The 24-hour campout, which began at noon Friday, was intended to provide youths with a positive learning experience as they prepared to start a new school year, said event organizers.

The event featured several workshops including martial arts, chess, green team building, decision making, gang violence prevention and police community interaction, and health and hygiene. All fell under the theme "Discipline and Determination Will Determine Destiny," said event planner Ede Taylor.

While the 200th filled the vital logistical role of providing the three GP-medium tents and cots as well as some PT instruction, much more was gained from the 10 Soldiers supporting the event, setting up the camp and staying overnight. Their interaction served as a positive influence for the community.

"This is one community involvement activity the command should support each year," said Capt. Donna Rouse, 200th MPCMD officer in charge of the unit project.

"Some of these kids come from backgrounds where they feel that they don't have any options in life. Us coming out here and showing them what their options are is a wonderful way for them to feel like they can be successful as well. Also, it helps us tie into the community so the community can have a different idea of what the Army does, or is, as a whole."

Following morning fitness training, several youths took an interest in the Soldiers, questioning them about military service. In addition to answering their questions, the Soldiers encouraged the youths to stay in school, stay away from drugs and to stay fit.

"We're here to let them know, 'You can be successful. You can do whatever you want; don't let your background or your current situation hold you back,' " Rouse said.

Sgt. Reynolds Peele led a short PT session and took time to talk with the youths.

"I enjoy working with the inter-city youth," Peele said. "This was a positive event getting them ready to go back to school with a positive attitude. I enjoyed laughing with them, they enjoyed laughing."

Community activist and military veteran Ronald Bailey, of Frankford Improvement Association, Inc., contacted the 200th MP Command for logistical support. "Without the tents, the cots and the support of the Soldiers, this could not have happened," he said. "I don't know how much the tents cost, but I know we could never purchase them, store them or set them up."

This was the second year of the Back 2 School Campout. Bailey said he would like to see it continue and expand next year. "This event works," he said.

Despite some heavy rain during the first half of the campout, "none of the kids asked to go home," Bailey said. "It's fantastic when you can work together and make something positive. And believe me, this is a very positive experience for a lot of these kids."

Page last updated Fri August 28th, 2009 at 16:48