ROCK FALLS – With the help of PACT summer camp, 12-year-old Angel Doyle was able to fish for the first time Tuesday morning.
“I’m not really hyper or loud normally,” said the soon-to-be Rock Falls Middle School seventh-grader. “I’m just quiet, so this is something fun to do, because it’s quiet.”
This week, the YMCA, Rock Falls Police Department and Whiteside County Housing Authority are putting on a summer camp for students who live in Coloma Homes, a low-income housing complex.
PACT summer camp – Police and Children Together – gives roughly 20 students ages 9 to 12 a chance to be involved in various summer activities. Through the program, students also are able to increase their health and wellness knowledge while they rub elbows with local officers.
“The students are able to see us more as humans,” said Tammy Nelson, operations commander for Rock Falls Police. “Sometimes, they don’t think we have lives and kids, and when they get to hang out with us for a while, they realize we are normal people. We just want to build a stronger bond with them.”
Each day, the kids participate in various activities. Tuesday, they spent time fishing and riding paddleboats in Centennial Park.
“This also lets the students know there are some local things they can do right here in their community,” said Stacey Morse, who helped put on the program. “If we are able to introduce that to them, they may be able to relay that to their parents and tell them they can come here and fish and it doesn’t cost anything.”
Other activities this week include bowling and visiting the movie theater to see “Hercules.” They also participated in different health and wellness activities at the YMCA.
“Bowling was great,” said Alex Helfers, who will be a sixth-grader at Rock Falls Middle School. “It was a lot of fun.”
If the weather cooperates today, students will go to Magic Waters waterpark in Cherry Valley, near Rockford.
“I’m looking forward to going to Magic Waters,” Angel said. “It’s a place I’ve never been before, and I’ve heard it’s really fun.”
The students are in the program free of charge. Transportation to and from all activities is provided by the YMCA. At the end of the camp, students will get T-shirts as well as a certificate of completion.