(GREENCASTLE) – Putnam County Kids Count, organizers of 13 annual character camps for area K-8 students, are in talks with the nearby Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch to offer new and expanded student experiences in 2022.
“PCKC volunteers are making great use of downtime caused by COVID-19 to investigate enhancing future camp activities and enlarging PCKC’s impact to schools countywide,” said Putnam County Sheriff Scott Stockton.
Until now, PCKC focused mainly on youth from North Putnam Community Schools, where most volunteers and donors lived. Recently, the Putnam County Community Foundation awarded a grant, so PCKC could expand their weeklong day camp to include students from Greencastle, Cloverdale, and South Putnam school districts.
Stockton, a longtime supporter of PCKC, serves as a volunteer board member of the not-for-profit Youth Ranch for future law enforcement officers and at-risk kids. He sees a unique opportunity for students from across Putnam County to benefit from a partnership with the 62-acre youth academy in adjacent Clay County.
“We’re in talks about collaborating with the Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch because they provide so much at their new training retreat next door,” said Cindy Huddleston, PCKC founder, and executive director. “They offer hiking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and archery shooting. They also have classes about K-9 handling, drone use, and safe ATV riding.”
Huddleston said PCKC camps could continue to focus on character building, but also expand to teach all R.A.N.C.H. lessons – respect, animals, nature, character, and health. Age-appropriate first aid, personal security, firearm safety, and drug awareness activities could be offered. Forestry, weather, and equestrian training are being discussed, she said.
“Heritage Lake families and others from NPCS could continue to play integral roles in planning and hosting our not-for-profit PCKC camp,” Huddleston said. “A partnership with the sheriffs, deputies, and their Youth Ranch next year might be just what we need to take our neighborhood project to a sustainable, next level benefitting a new generation of kids from throughout Putnam County.”