For Sean Lau, a typical spring break would include a bit of lazing, a lot of relaxing, and even more resting.
But this year, he chose a different way to pass the time.
Spring Break 2014 included 5 a.m. wake up calls, unending push ups, sit ups and burpees, demanding cardio, and days full of learning opportunities. He was one of about 50 students from across the Upper Fraser Valley accepted into the rigorous RCMP Youth Academy at Stillwood near Cultus Lake.
“It was a lot of fun,” Lau said. “I wouldn’t have traded a week of that for a week of sitting around.”
This was the 15th year the camp has been offered, and is designed to mirror depot training that new RCMP officers go through. It’s run by the RCMP, and facilitated by officers from this area for the entire 10 days. Its purpose is to give youth a glimpse at the life of a police officer, to help them decide if law enforcement is right for them.
This year, three students didn’t make it to graduation day. Despite the grueling physical training aspect of the academy, 16-year-old Lau made it right to the end. Like many who have passed through the program, he came out with his mind made up.
“I was thinking about becoming RCMP or a firefighter, but I’ve made my decision,” he said. “I’ll probably go to UFV and get a bit of criminology in before I go to depot.”
Lau was one of three high school students from Agassiz to go through the program. Jordan Henry and Robert McNeil-Bobb also toughed it out, joining a long line of local students to take part.
Those who help run the program say it can be “life changing” for those who apply themselves.
Each day included interactions and demonstrations from various divisions of the RCMP, from emergency response teams to IHIT. They learned about fingerprinting, tracking criminals, explosives disposals, and more. They took part in cross fit exercises, and took a trip to the Pacific Regional Training Centre in Sardis.
Darlene Burleigh, superintendent of the Upper Fraser Valley Regional RCMP, was among the higher brass to attend the graduation ceremony at Stillwood on Mar. 21.
The ceremony began with an impressive drill demonstration, and she applauded the young cadets for their hard work.
“Most of us went to depot for six months and came out marching as good as you have after just 12 hours,” she said, smiling. She noted that she believes the “enthusiasm of the facilitators” came through for the cadets, impressing on them that becoming a police officer is a noble job opportunity.
To get into the camp, students have to pass a physical test and go through an intensive screening process that involves the school and the RCMP.