BINGHAMTON, NY – The United Way is joining other local donors to help spruce up a summer camp that offers local kids outdoor recreation and a way to build community-police relations.
The United Way announced today a $20,000 grant to the Binghamton Police Athletic League, or PAL, camp in Kirkwood.
PAL, which is a non-profit organization separate from the City of Binghamton, is also receiving $21,000 from the city’s community development block grant funding to use to repair the building’s aging infrastructure, especially the roof, as well as operational expenses.
Established in 1947 by Captain Francis Carns, the camp offers kids ages 7 to 13 from Binghamton and surrounding communities a day camp with swimming, fishing, hiking, sports, games and arts and crafts.
United Way of Broome County Executive Director LoriAnne Welch says the children also get to have positive interactions with the police officers who run the camp.
“They also have the opportunity to really establish strong relationships with the City of Binghamton Police who are here and have been behind this from the beginning,” says Welch.
“Strengthen our relationships with these younger people and their families. Especially these days with what’s going on now. We want them to see the police officers as human beings and we’ve always had a good turnout here,” says BPD Chief Joe Zikuski.
Zikuski says an active or retired member of the police force always serves as the Camp Director.
This year, it’s Officer Matt Lewis, who currently works with juveniles in the department.
Zikuski says that makes him especially qaulified to work with at-risk youth.
The free camp runs for 5 weeks from July 5th through August 6th.
There are sign-ups available outside police headquarters in Binghamton City Hall.
Free bus transportation from specific spots in the city is also available.