While patrolling the streets of Clovis, he might be Officer Chiaramonte, but this week Giuseppe — or just G, as many kids are calling him — is the coach with the candy.
More than 100 Clovis Unified students in first through sixth grade participated in the second annual Cops and Kids Sports Camp, where they got to play games and eat lunch with every person in the Clovis Police Department.
After filling up Thursday on quesadillas from local Chipotle restaurants that donated meals, the kiddos were ready for dessert. Chiaramonte doled out candy and the happy youngsters ran off to join their friends on the indoor soccer field to get ready for the day’s next exercise.
“It’s about building a relationship; that’s key,” Chiaramonte said. “We need positive interactions. And Clovis PD — that’s what we’re all about.”
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Everyone from officers to chaplains to dispatchers to community service officers volunteered their time to serve as coaches and mentors for the youths as they played indoor soccer, basketball, volleyball and ran through an obstacle course.
“Not one person from our department has not been here,” Chiaramonte said.
Twenty to 30 Clovis Police Department employees staffed the camp at Clovis Recreation Center each day, alternating shifts and working around their patrol schedules.
Officers volunteered in the morning and then went on to work 10-hour swing shifts and uniformed officers volunteered during their breaks, Chiaramonte said.
“It’s a group effort,” he said. “The full priority is making sure we’re interacting with the kids as cops. We take them out and let them see our patrol cars, things like that.”
The four-day camp ran from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Not only did the children participate in group sports, but they also learned situational awareness from officers and were taught the difference between good choices and bad ones.
Friday, the final day of camp, was filled with arts and crafts followed by plenty of water activities outdoors to cool off.
“It’s been a really cool experience,” Chiaramonte said. “We just tried to make it better. Last year we didn’t have the water slides and things like that. This year we have a double, 20-foot water slide. Clovis Fire Department will be out there with a hose, the dunk tanks… We’ve created this carnival-like atmosphere on Friday. I think it’s something that will be memorable. And it’s going to get better next year.”
Registration was conducted online via Facebook. It was open to all children in Clovis Unified School District.
The camp was certainly in-demand, and organizers anticipate the same response next year.
“Last year it took us four days to get 100 kids to sign up; this year we had 103 kids sign up in four hours,” Chiaramonte said.
Registration only cost $10 and participants received a T-shirt and meals each day.
With an event budget of just $1,500, the Clovis Police Department relied on community donations to fund the camp and feed the kids.
The sold-out camp was sponsored by the Clovis Police Officer’s Association, the Clovis Public Safety Employee Association, Table Mountain Rancheria, Wal-Mart, Wawona Frozen Foods, Chipotle, Elephant Lounge, Dutch Bros. Coffee, Fresno Fun Jump, Fresno DiCicco’s, Powell’s Candy in Sierra Vista Mall, McDonald’s, Sierra Vista Mall and M&M Screen Printing.