BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County kids are enjoying the great outdoors this summer, courtesy of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Kids Academy.

The free camp gets them out of the house and into unique experiences most summer camps don’t offer.

It’s the first summer Kids Academy since Hurricane Michael and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Public Information Officer for BCSO Ruth Corley said the camp gives kids the opportunity to learn things they aren’t usually taught at home or in school.

“Yesterday, they met the bomb squad. The day before they went fishing. It’s a first for a lot of these kids. They’ve never been fishing before,” says Corley. “Today, we’re out at the hangar for our air unit, showing them the brand-new helicopter. It’s new to us. And they got to see it fly in and land, and they had a really great time. We’ll be following that up with the K-9 unit that we have with all the dogs.”

Interacting with law enforcement helps kids better understand their role in society.

“It’s really cool and they’re really nice and they’re teaching us a lot of stuff,” says Cortney Nelecen, a Kids Academy camper.

The camp may be for kids, but officers end up having just as much fun showing what they do for their jobs.

“They learn a little bit more about the sheriff’s office, the operations, and the capabilities that we have. All of them seem really excited,” said Sgt. Kenneth Smiley. “If I could just touch one child and maybe steer them towards aviation or law enforcement, I’ve done my job. I have in the past during Cops and Kids. There was one child that I connected with. Years later, he came back to me and was an army helicopter pilot.”

Sheriff’s officials offer two different week-long camps for kids between the ages of 13 and 16 years old. The second begins June 19.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office Kids Academy offers free enrollment, but they do accept donations to help improve the program. If you would like more information about the BCSO Kids Academy, click here.