A Scarborough Police Department summer camp for middle schoolers is returning this June for the first time since the pandemic.

“Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders” looks to do just that in a leadership-based program for children entering sixth, seventh or eighth grade in the fall.

“What we’re looking to do is to expose that age group to what leadership is, what it means to them and how it can mean something to their future,” Lt. Tim Barker, who organizes the camp, told the Leader. “We feel that this can be a resume builder for them stepping into high school and getting involved in other types of programs.”

It can be challenging to keep middle schoolers interested in a topic like leadership, Barker said. To keep the kids engaged, the camp offers plenty of activities, from trivia games to ropes courses, and an overnight whitewater rafting trip caps off the week. Amid the fun, the focus is on leadership, even while rafting.

“They have an opportunity in exercises while they’re out on the river to be that leader,” he said.

Campers will also meet public safety personnel and first responders, who will “talk about what leadership means to them, how it helps them and team building,” Barker said.


Community Resource Officer Eric Greenleaf will head up some of the camp’s outdoor activities for the first time. As someone who works closely with Scarborough students, he said he’s eager for the opportunity to interact with them in a different setting.

“I’m looking forward to continuing the ongoing relationships that I’ve established in school with the kids outside of the school,” Greenleaf said. “We need more positive programs in the community and this is a great step in the right direction.”

Most other youth leadership camps in Maine are either hours away from Scarborough or very expensive, Barker said,  something he learned when searching for a camp for his own children when they were younger.

“I wanted to create something that was very affordable and something that was local, instead of parents having to worry about traveling up north for three hours, dropping their kid off, and the kid’s not being engaged,” Barker said. “That’s why we try to make it very productive, self-driven, entertaining and affordable.”

The June 8-13 camp costs $100 per student and includes lunches, snacks and the rafting trip.

Greenleaf said 11 kids have signed up for the camp so far, “and it’s early.”

The first camp was held in 2017 and, in its first few pre-pandemic installments, the feedback from students and parents was overwhelmingly positive, Barker said. While they will have to put a cap on attendees at some point, Barker hopes “Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders” will grow.

“We want to inspire this younger group of kids to be leaders and step into those roles however they fit it into their personal lives or their future,” Barker said. “We’ve seen some really good outcomes from past classes, so that’s something that we want to continue and build upon.”

For more information or to register, go to tinyurl.com/2c2ba3cx.

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