With the carefree days of summer just around the corner, youngsters of the Golden Isles might groan at the thought of showing up on time, standing at attention and responding with a crisp “no, sir” or “yes, ma’am” to all questions.

But a little discipline is the only cost of admission for what might be most memorable and exciting two weeks of the entire summer break for some lucky kids. So says Brunswick Police officer Marsha Myers-Bue, who is heading up this year’s Youth COP Summer Program.

The program offers youngsters an opportunity to gain a hands-on perspective on the role of law enforcement, from fingerprinting and crime scene investigation to working with agencies from the courts to the U.S. Coast Guard.

“They actually enjoy it,” Myers-Bue said of the Brunswick Police Department’s annual summer youth cadets program. “There are some expectations of discipline and responsibility from the cadets, but they also have a lot of fun, and it is a great learning experience.”

The department will host two cadet classes of 20 youngsters, each for two-week sessions. The first Youth COP (Community Oriented Policing) Summer Program will take place June 10-21, and the second will take place July 8-19. All Glynn County students ages 11 to 14 years old are eligible.

Cadet candidates are required to submit an application along with a written essay of 50 words or more on the topic, “Why I Am Interested in Law Enforcement.” Applications can be picked up at the Brunswick Police Department at 206 Mansfield St., or by emailing Myers-Bue at mmyers-bue@brunswickpolice.org. The deadline to submit applications is May 28.

The essays will be judged by a committee within the police department and winning applicants will be contacted.

The Summer COP camp will meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday of the camp. A graduation ceremony will be held for cadets of both camps at 6:30 p.m. July 22 at Howard Coffin Park in Brunswick. Elected officials, special guests and members of the police department will be on hand.

Cadets receive a camp T-shirt and meals and snacks are provided. Each camp ends with a cookout celebration.

Myers-Bue has been involved in the Summer COP camp since the Brunswick Police Department first started the program in 2011. She has seen many youngsters gain insight into their own abilities and attributes while taking part in the program.

“Confidence is a really big one,” Myers-Bue said. “It’s a real confidence booster. We do the marching, the drills. They help us out, they are assigned duties. They learn to take responsibility. It teaches leadership.”

In addition to the daily activities around the police department, the cadets will take field trips and also visit the Glynn County Courthouse to attend a mock trial. They also will meet with folks from other law enforcement agencies, including game wardens with the state Department of Natural Resources, as well as officials from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the U.S. Coast Guard, she said.

Cadets will receive demonstrations on several aspects of wearing the badge, including firearm safety, pursuit driving, putting the cuffs on a suspect, and K9 work. Inevitably, Myers-Bue said, a couple of youngsters will have been pressured to attend by a guardian or parent and will show up with something less than enthusiasm. Watching the transformation in those cadets each year has been rewarding, she said.

“Sometimes maybe their parents encouraged them to attend,” Myers-Bue said. “And a lot of them, at first, are like, I don’t know what to expect. And in the end, it’s great. They really enjoy themselves and they learn that we do other things besides just take people to jail.”

Indeed, the Summer COP camp is a good investment for the department. That is why the $3,500 cost of the program is included in the operating budget every year, she said.

“For one, it builds trust — it’s a bridge between the community and the police department,” Myers-Bue said. “A lot of kids nowadays are scared of police because of what they’re hearing and seeing on news outlets and social media. It crosses that gap and gets rid of the negativity.”

For more information, contact Myers-Bue at 912-279-2607.

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