Blaine Safety Camp encourages safety in many areas of life

At Blaine Safety Camp, safety is more than just knowing how to cross the street – it’s knowing what information shouldn’t be shared on the Internet, how to avoid electrical shock and much more.

Campers try a self-defense move for when they have been grabbed by the hair during the personal safety portion of the camp. Photo by Bethany Kemming

Campers try a self-defense move for when they have been grabbed by the hair during the personal safety portion of the camp. Photo by Bethany Kemming

Around 153 campers delved into the various aspects of safety at the 16th annual Blaine Safety Camp at Spring Lake Park-Blaine-Mounds View (SBM) Fire Department Station 3 July 11 and 12.

After two days and around 10 safety courses, campers enjoyed an ice cream social and emergency vehicle display followed by an awards ceremony at Spring Lake Park High School. The camp is co-sponsored by the Blaine Police Department, Blaine Parks and Recreation Department and the SBM Fire Department.

Blaine Safety Camp is for campers entering fourth grade. This age group is best suited to learn about the issues safety camp addresses, according to Blaine Parks and Recreation Department Program Supervisor Nate Monahan.

“They are in situations where they have the freedom to be by themselves,” Monahan said. “We want them to maintain a safe kind of living.”

He said he hopes campers learn the safety lessons enough to be able to share them with parents and friends.

New to safety camp this year was a bullying prevention program. Since bullying has become a large issue in schools, Monahan said safety camp needed to address it as well.

“It needs to be brought to the forefront. They could experience it themselves or do it themselves,” he said.

Along with bullying prevention, campers learned about Internet safety, personal safety, electrical safety, water safety, safety on wheels, brain injury prevention, animal safety, poison safety and home safety.

Monahan said campers typically enjoy the electrical safety course and retain much of what they learn. Through an electrical display, Connexus Energy employees Jon Stumpf and Kris Knudsen encouraged campers to respect electricity and the 7,200 volts that run through their overhead power lines.

By using hot dogs to represent human fingers, Knudsen and Stumpf demonstrated what can happen to the human body when it comes in contact with a power line.

“Don’t take it [electricity] for granted. There’s no re-dos when it comes to high voltage,” Stumpf said.

They also stressed the importance of maintaining safe, non-frayed electrical cords by pulling the cord directly out of the wall by grabbing it at the outlet end rather than yanking it.

Campers also heard from Don Bania Jr., a quadriplegic artist who draws with his mouth. Bania was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident involving a drunk driver in 1970.

Campers learned about Internet safety at a course taught by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Training and Education Coordinator Karina Berzins. A Netsmartz cartoon encouraged campers to use their “netsmartz” and remember four major Internet safety rules.

Berzins told campers not to share any of their personal information online without asking a trusted adult first and to tell a trusted adult if they see anything online that makes them feel sad or confused.

She also encouraged campers never to meet anyone in person that they’ve only interacted with online.

“They might tell us they’re eight or nine years old but is that the truth? We don’t know and that’s what’s scary,” Berzins told campers.

Along with staying safe in their interactions with others, Berzins instructed campers to practice good “netiquette” and avoid being mean to anyone online.

Berzins said she has seen Internet safety is an issue with children even younger than fourth grade.

Total Tae Kwan Do Head Instructor Bill Frauly taught campers several self-defense moves and also stressed the importance of yelling and running in dangerous situations.

“The most important aspect of self-defense is escaping and defending your self… don’t try to fight those larger than you,” Frauly said.

The cost for a child to attend Blaine Safety Camp was $30. Campers were provided breakfast and lunch on both days and also fitted for and provided with a bike helmet.

Blaine Safety Camp volunteers came from the senior center as well as the Blaine Police Explorers program. Counselors comprised police officers, firefighters, paramedics and Blaine Park and Recreation Department staff.

Bethany Kemming is at bethany.kemming@ecm-inc.com

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