Dare County’s Camp: Save A Life Together (S.A.L.T.)

By on August 26, 2019


In working to reduce the adverse effects of the opioid and other substance abuse problems that are plaguing our nation, the Saving Lives Task Force has discussed numerous potentially helpful programs. Many of these programs such as pre-arrest diversion are promoted on the national level and require substantial amounts of funding and approval at the highest levels of government. These facts can often become cumbersome and in turn cause even the best evidence based programs to flounder and never reach their full potential.

By looking for a national solution we may have a tendency to overlook grassroots programs such as Dare County’s very own Camp S.A.L.T. Camp S.A.L.T. is a Dare County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) summer project staffed by School Resource Officers and Support Staff and is a free program for kids 8-17. Camp S.A.L.T. is located near the First Flight High School (FFHS) in Kill Devil Hills, NC.

Camp S.A.L.T. was started by DCSO’s Sheriff Dough Doughtie in 2011 as a program that could be used to help our county’s young people to develop skills that will allow them to face adversity, learn to work with diverse groups, find the confidence to believe in themselves and make good decisions. Sheriff Doughtie said that Camp S.A.L.T. “is a place where kids can learn that there is no race and learn that we are all one person.” Sheriff Doughtie knows the camp is an opportunity for the participants to learn to care about each other and learn to trust themselves and others.

Camp S.A.L.T. utilizes the high ropes course, climbing wall and the impressive alpine tower to teach the campers to work as a team, to follow instructions and to learn that hard work will often result in good things. Camp Director George Bowman has been there from the start and is constantly looking for new projects and events for the campers to experience and grow from. Director Bowman talks to each session of campers in a respectful manner, using plain talk to explain what will be expected of them. Bowman and the staff are well trained and knowledgeable, holding the attention of about 30 young people in each group who seem to hang on every word.
The participants in Camp S.A.L.T. come from each of the county’s elementary and middle schools. Children can be referred by school personnel and SROs or request to attend themselves. Those interested in attending one of the sessions of Camp S.A.L.T. can obtain the information about the camp from the DCSO website at https://tinyurl.com/y6pkuzyl

Students and staff alike who spoke about the program had only positive things to report. The instructors observed that they have watched the camp participants grow from the sessions and do better in all aspects of life after graduating from the program. This speaks volumes of the success of the program as the SROs will follow these students throughout their school life.

Sheriff Doughtie added that this camp is often the first chance the campers have to really interact with and learn about other people in a positive atmosphere. Sheriff Doughtie said that “they’ll learn a lot about themselves and maybe learn about the Lord along the journey.”

Bowman finishes the first session by telling the campers that he will ask them two questions when they conquer the alpine tower and reach the top. Bowman adds,“You’ll only know what the questions are if you push yourself to the top.” There is no doubt that each of those who try will know those two questions by the end of the week!

The S.A.L.T. Project demonstrates what can be accomplished at the local level without huge budgets and with the compassion and caring of a few committed people in the right place. Each one reading this can look to be the person in the right place and find a way to help in a positive way whenever given the chance.

  Click to read the Saving Lives Task Force Newsletter

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