This year’s camp was April 20 at various locations in and around the school.
Originally, the camp was sponsored by the Peabody Police and Fire departments and Emergency Medical Services, said Ken Parry, elementary principal.
“Seven years ago, the camp was held on a Saturday and about 30 children attended,” he said.
“Then about five years ago, I was invited to the Safe Kids Committee meetings.”
The group wanted to reach most, if not all children, in Peabody, and they were interested in any suggestions.
Parry proposed holding the event during the school year and following state assessments.
“The purpose is to keep our children safe and what better way to do that than with this camp,” he said.
The committee started thinking about adding more groups that could offer safety demonstrations or talks aimed at helping children understand the dangers of topics ranging from cyberbullying and severe weather to farm safety and the hazards of electricity.
Keeping the core agencies (Peabody EMS, police and fire) as a foundation, the committee began adding more groups to include representatives from Union Pacific Railroad, Hutchinson Eagle Med, Marion County Sheriff’s K-9 unit and boat safety from the Corps of Engineers.
Each student receives a T-shirt made possible through donations, along with other free items from the various agencies.
“We have parents tell us their children get excited when they know the camp is being held,” Parry said.
One kindergartener told Parry: “It’s the best day of school he ever had.”
Other advantages Parry has heard from students and parents is that if ever they have to be in an ambulance or if there home catches on fire, they are more aware of the role firefighters or EMS personnel have.
“They aren’t as afraid of the scary-looking outfits,” he said.
“We believe we are keeping our children safer with this information.”
As a way to keep the programs fresher, the committee changes out some topics from year-to-year.
“What we are hoping to do is give our students the tools they need to handle a situation in the event of a crisis,” Parry said.
With two major train tracks running through Peabody, the committee decided to bring in an railroad engineer, who talks with students about how long it takes a train to stop and lessons in avoiding serious and sometimes deadly mishaps.
In order to make sure the safety camp will be available to children in the future, Parry and others are looking at new avenues for donations.
“This year we will be sponsoring a circus May 26 with proceeds going toward next year’s event,” he said.
Another reward is the gratitude from those attending.
Parry said students and parents will thank those presenting programs and committee members for the camp.
“We already have next year’s camp scheduled for April 20,” he said.
For more information about the program, call Parry at 620-983-2188.