Achievement Academy

Achievement Academy

The Achievement Academy was originally developed by our School Resource Officer and DARE officer in 1994.  Using advice from youth psychologists, wilderness camp instructors, and others, the camp was a response to a growing number of “at risk” youth in our community.  Garner does not have a violent crime problem, but we do experience average or higher levels of young-offender property crimes.  In 1994, we piloted our first Achievement Academy (called CHALLENGE CAMP at the time) with community donated funds and have continued to offer it annually each summer.

The camp is aimed at rising 7th graders at our two middle schools.  Students are selected by school counselors and police officers based on a combination of their academic performance, socioeconomic background, and discipline record.  Those invited to attend are selected because they have expressed a desire to change.  The camp is not for every child, and some are not selected if they do not show a willingness to change.

The Achievement Academy is two weeks long and involves overnight trips as well as day activities.  Staffed completely by Police Officers, the youth engage in a number of challenging activities including canoeing, whitewater rafting, a high ropes course, orienteering, rock climbing, and classroom settings as well.  Camp Counselors give lessons on conflict resolution, teamwork, communication skills, and problem solving.

Our SROs and teachers report dramatic turnarounds with many of the kids who have completed camp.  Students who used to react with anger, frustration and fighting learn to resolve their conflicts peacefully. Students who were failing turn their grades around and those who were introverted come out of their shells to participate in school.

Over 200 children have completed our camps.  Earlier analysis indicates that while the children are very much "at-risk" for delinquent behavior, more than 80% of them still had no juvenile or adult arrests.