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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • D.A.R.E. camp kicks off

  • During the first day of this year's D.A.R.E. camp in Leavenworth, children were treated to an appearance by the mascot for the Kansas City Chiefs.
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  • During the first day of this year's D.A.R.E. camp in Leavenworth, children were treated to an appearance by the mascot for the Kansas City Chiefs.
    KC Wolf stopped by the camp Monday at Richard W. Warren Middle School. And the children in the camp heard from Dan Meers, the man who portrays the mascot.
    "I get paid to act goofy," Meers said after removing his KC Wolf costume.
    Meers talked to the children about making good choices and answered questions about his job.
    The Leavenworth Police Department hosts the free weeklong camp each summer. The camp is named after the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program that's taught by law enforcement officers in schools.
    The Leavenworth Police Department is currently without a D.A.R.E. officer, so this year's camp is being led by Police Chief Pat Kitchens.
    "It's been a very popular program," he said.
    Kitchens said some of the education activities in this year's camp are the same as what has been offered the past. But some new activities were planned this year including the KC Wolf visit.
    Another new activity this year is a trip to Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kan. That field trip is scheduled for Thursday.
    The camp will wrap up Friday afternoon with a graduation ceremony.
    The camp is designed for children in grades four and five. Kitchens said there's 30 children enrolled in the camp this year. He said there also are 16 teens who are helping with the camp.
    Kitchens said the summer camp reinforces aspects of the D.A.R.E. school program by encouraging children to make good choices and not do drugs and alcohol. He said the camp also gives children exposure to police officers in a relaxed environment.
    During his talk Monday, Meers discussed what he called the ABC of success ― attitude, behavior and character.
    He told the children that if they go through life making good choices, good things will happen. If they make bad choices, bad things will happen to them.
    The Leavenworth Police Department has been without a D.A.R.E. officer due to the departure of Mark Lingenfelser. He retired from the Police Department in December and now works for the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office.
    Kitchens said he hopes the Leavenworth Police Department can resume teaching the D.A.R.E. program in schools in January.

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