DENNISON TWP. — Normally, they wouldn’t wake up at 5:30 a.m. to run nearly 2 miles or perform 45 minutes of physical training, especially when the mornings this week were extremely muggy.
Or face push-ups as discipline when they foul up or get caught doing something against the rules, such as holding a water bottle in the wrong hand.
But they did.
More than 80 children between ages 12 and 15 from Bradford, Luzerne, Sullivan and Wyoming counties will graduate Friday from Camp Cadet, a week of jumping out of bed before sunrise, taking four-minute showers, saying “Sir” when addressing instructors, and learning the different functions performed by the Pennsylvania State Police.
Camp Cadet is an annual weeklong event held statewide. State police Troop P sponsors the camp at Camp Kresge, a 1,100-acre camp near White Haven.
Trooper Tom Kelly coordinates Troop P Camp Cadet, and troopers volunteer their own vacation time to participate as instructors.
One thing the cadets won’t miss: Waking up at 5:30 a.m. to run.
“Sir, the hardest for me was waking up at 5:30 and PT (physical training),” said Karmalyn Gambardella, 13, of Pittston. “I usually don’t wake up that early. I normally get up at 1.”
Jordan Nichols, 13, of Dallas, and Matt Stetz, 13, of Duryea, also don’t enjoy waking up that early.
“Sir, I expected the mornings to be really hard, waking up early that I never do, and going for a run and then do physical training,” Stetz said. “The first two days, it was tough but it got easier.”
“The running was hard and I expected the troopers to act like drill sergeants at PT, but they’re really not bad,” Nichols said.
Nichols said she learned “so much” this past week and about the different duties of a trooper.
“It totally blew my mind what the state police do,” Nichols said.
Cadets arrived Sunday not knowing what to expect or how to act.
That’s where cadet counselors come in to assist.
Taylor Bath, 15, of Warrior Run, was a cadet in 2017 and returned this year as a counselor.
“When it’s your first year as a cadet, you’re nervous and you will struggle and not know exactly how to act,” Bath said. “Being a counselor, we’re here to help and assist, make the cadet feel more comfortable and to help them figure things out on their own.”
Cadets took part in many activities while learning about the functions of the state police, including shooting firearms, accident reconstruction, traffic stops, solving crimes, footprints, hand castings, and canines. They also have fun on their last night, a talent show that mimics their instructors.