Monday, August 17, 2009

Picnic with Police & Fire Departments 2009

Our Picnic with the Police and Fire Departments was a success with over 800 people signing in at the picnic. The day started out cloudy (which was nice while we worked to set up for the picnic). Once the clouds cleared and the sun came out it warmed up quickly.

Our first hour started out slow with only 30 families signing in. Word spread quickly and soon we could see the families with strollers coming our way. The food line grew longer as our volunteers worked fervently to keep up with the demand . Families were allowed to eat as much and as often as they wanted. Once parents fed their children it was off to participate in the numerous opportunities for fun. Families could cool down by walking through the sprinkler or by enjoying a free snow cone. Children received three tickets to play the games, winning a prize at each game. Children could get their face painted, bounce around in a bouncy tent or get their photo taken on the Fire Truck. We are still trying to cope with the loss of Polaroid film. It was so, convienant to snap a child's photo and instantly hand the photo to mom or dad. We are continuing our efforts to take photos, transfer the photos from memory sticks to the printer, print the photos and get them to parents in a timely mannor. We seem to generate a lot of frustration with parents over the time it takes. I think we will have to purchase another compact printer in order to speed the process up. Our other choice is to stop taking the photos with the Fire Trucks and with Santa at Christmas. I will have to think it over a bit more.

Chief Miguel and Deputy Chief Fowler came to the picnic for a visit and to thank our volunteers.
The pace throughout the day remained steady with families leaving once their bellies were full and their game tickets were gone, only to be replaced by new families who were just arriving. In all 236 families signed into the picnic. Families ranged from a single child to eight children. In addition many families brought along a relative or a neighbors child. It was a great time for all.

Thank you, to all of my volunteers who worked very hard in the heat all day long. I had no problem finding help to get meat or water from the refrigerated tractor trailer G&C Foods allowed us to use. Volunteers would jump up in the cool trailer and stay there for a few extra minutes.

And thank you, to all you folks who made donations to make the picnic possible. During these tough economic times we are finding our donations are down. I certinally understand why people cannot give right now. I am especially grateful for those of you who still manage to help us even though you could use a little extra help yourself. Times are tough. Thanks to you, we were able to put a lot of smiles on many little faces. Check out our Flickr site for more photos of our picnic. Click on the link below. I love looking at the photos over and over again.

God Bless,

Police Officer
James K. Clarke

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Upcoming Picnic with the Police And Fire Departments

Our Annual Picnic with the Police & Fire Departments is this Thursday August 13th in Washington Square Park from 11-4pm. Free food, drinks, game prizes and photos with Police and Firemen. Come on down to the Park for a fun time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Summer Camping Trip

Our Summer Camping Trip was wonderful. At first we were a little worried about the weather. We set a couple of pop -ups so, we could get under them if it was rainy. We did have a few spotty showers but nothing which hindered our activities.

A child from past summer trips with the Police Center (now 33 yrs old) came along on the trip with us. He has been spending time at the Police Center getting some community service hours in. The timing for me could not have been more perfect. I had not considered taking him along on the trip. Then a few days before the trip he said "You know Officer Clarke it has been a long time since I have been on a trip with you." He was right. It had been a long time. He was on one of our very first camping trips held through the Police Center. It took place more than 15 years ago. I remember my initial plans were to take the group on a Whale Watching / Deep Sea Fishing Trip to Gloucester, MA. I even had a business that was willing to pay $5,000 of the tab. I had done it several times before with groups outside of work and was confident I could do it with this group. Community Policing was new back then. My bosses were not very receptive to the idea. One boss suggested "What if there is an earthquake under the sea and the boat we are on gets swallowed up"? I have to admit, I hadn't given much thought to that happening. But then again I never heard of it happening. Back then our police administration was stuck in a rut with the traditional ways we should do police work. They were at least listening, but boy did I have some tough times getting them to allow me to do things back then. Although, we still have a ways to go, we sure have come a long way in proactive policing over the years.

The Whale Watch never happend but my bosses agreed to a camping / canoe trip to Eighth Lake in the Adirondacks (our very first trip). I had lots of past experiance on canoe trips as a teen and lead numerous trips with church youth groups over the years. Prior to the trip we took the group to Jamesville Beach for canoe trainning. the kids would practice paddling in the front and rear of the canoe and before the training was over, everyone, had to tip a canoe over on purpose. I enjoyed watching the kids progress from outta control canoes, to wanting to flip their canoes over numerous times. It's amazing how in a few hours they become comfortable in the canoes. That was a great trip years ago. It rained off and on that weekend but our last day in the rain, the kids still wanted to go to Enchanted Forrest. So, we went. I still have photos of that trip on my "FUN TIMES" bullentin board in the Police Center Office.

Jason, was on that first trip. Now he was going to join us in chaperoning 15 children on a camping trip to Black Lake. When you bring 15 children ranging in ages from 7-15 on a trip, they require lots of attention and there is never enough of us adults to go around. The days are filled with requests "Can you put another worm on my hook?" "Can you get my pole unstuck?" Can you take my fish off the hook?" "When are we gonna eat?" "Can we go out in the boat now?" "Are we gonna do "SNORES" tonight in the fire?" "Can we go tubing, ride the ATV, take the canoe out?" etc... etc... Generally, we don't have enough time to give the children canoe lessons cuz we are too busy untangling fishing poles, feeding and watering the kids. In other words just trying to keep up (you moms all know what I am talking about). Having Jason on the trip was a great help which allowed for canoe training. Although, Jason had not been in a canoe for a long time he still possessed all the skilles we taught him years ago. One by one Jason, would take a child out front of camp in a canoe and spend time teaching them the fundamentals of canoeing. I have 3 usable canoes at camp and one in need of repair. This allowed four of the kids to paddle around out front of camp at a time and one canoe for me if I needed to paddle out and help them with anything. Sometimes the wrong pairs would partner and they just couldn't paddle well together. The children spent a lot of time in the canoes over the weekend. It was strange that I couldn't convince them to bring their poles out and fish from the canoes??? They would all want to crowd on the dock at the same time and try to fish.

Our weekend really, was great. The kids caught frogs and snakes, oh yeah and fish. I took them all tubing (would have done more but my power trim broke). They fished from the boat, rode ATVs, sat around a campfire, cooked smores and did a lot of swimming. The lake is weedy, with a soft bottom. I get a kick outta watching the new kids we bring on our trips. The children who have been before wade right out in it with out a problem. The new kids ask questions about fish biting them and make horrible faces as they wade in. By the end of the weekend we can't keep em outta the water.

I was thankful for Jason on this trip. Jason was a great help. It was kinda neat having him on another trip so, many years latter. I have only seen him once since the trip. He has completed his community service hours and is back to being busy with his own life.

My Dad used to say "Life is strange" referring to the course of events which pass our way. I am grateful to God for the people and events he has led my way during the course of my life. The good Lord always seems to know what I need and when I need it. I am not just talking about a body to help with a trip. I am referring to visually witnessing the fruits of your labor. During a conversation with Jason he said "Officer Clarke, I can't believe all I had on these trips with you when I was a kid." "I can see it better now." "I wish, I would have listened more and done some things different in my life." "This is a great thing you do for all of us."I enjoyed having Jason around for the weekend. I'll bet a need was met in Jason's life during the trip too.

Thank you, to all you folks who support us with donations of supplies and the finances we need to make these trips possible. You have filled the lives of nummerous children with great memories. You have filled my life as well.

Thank you,

Officer Clarke.

To see more photos go to click on a photo it will bring you to Flickr