Congratulations to this year’s students at Camp DARE upon their successful graduation. The graduation ceremony on Thursday concluded the four-day camp at Leonardtown Middle School.

Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) began in 1983 as a partnership between the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District. The success of D.A.R.E.’s innovative approach soon attracted the attention of law enforcement and education nationwide, and it quickly spread from a local program involving ten officers and 50 schools to a national and international icon.

The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office re-implemented the D.A.R.E. program during the 2007-2008 school year. Ten lessons designed for the middle schools are taught by certified deputies whose training, experience, and knowledge provide the background needed to answer questions posed by young students regarding drugs and crime. The program “humanizes” police so children can relate to them as people. It opens lines of communication between law enforcement and youth, and the information provided goes far beyond drug-related topics.

The D.A.R.E. curriculum is research and focuses on ways to deal with a specific set of problematic life situations, such as understanding health, social and legal consequences, understanding their own beliefs, developing and using communication and resistance skills, and making the positive quality of life decisions regarding drugs and violence. D.A.R.E. provides skills needed to recognize and resist pressures that cause youth to experiment with drugs or become involved in gangs or violent activities.

Thank you to this year’s partners: SMECO, Mechanicsville Optimist Club, St. Mary’s County Board of Education, Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department, Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad and Maryland State Police. The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office looks forward to hosting the camp again next summer.

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