Laughter rolls at
law enforcement camp
Story & photos
by Patricia Swan Smith
For the Pathfinder
August 13, 1998
Around 200 people attended the dinner and awards ceremony during the last evening of the Law Enforcement Summer Camp. King Ooga Booga demands that his victim says what he says and does what he does! He makes em shout and makes them dance. He makes them jump in the air and land on chairs.
Rain forced this year's Missoula County Law Enforcement's Summer Camp to hold their awards ceremony indoors at Camp Paxton, but that didn't keep King Ooga Booga from soaking his victims.
When King Ooga Booga reins, those joining his kingdom learn they must do exactly what the King does and says.
They must shout crazy words that don't make a lot of sense.
They must jump around and dance in front of a crowd of crazed followers. They have to jump into the air. They must slam down in their chairs when they sit and shout Ooga Booga, Ooga Booga over and over.
And once the King has them trained properly, he throws himself down on his chair once last time. The innocent camper follows suit. But this time, right before he hits the seat, one of the followers slips a soaking, wet sponge on the seat of his chair.
The shock, accompanied by a leap straight into the air from a sitting position, and of course the laughter that follow make the US Probation Officer Don Lesmeister's skit a camp favorite. Each cabin team performs a skit they put together during the week before the awards ceremony. This year there were 9 cabins.
Three of the seventy boys attending the camp were from Seeley. They had a week of playing, fishing, swimming and preparing their skits.
The Seeley Fire Department took an engine to the camp, and after showing the kids all the equipment, the firefighters drenched the campers with the deck gun. After they were good and wet, they were allowed to shoot one of the hoses at fellow campers.
The Ice Cream Place donated a free ice-cream cone to each of the campers one afternoon.
The officers dress in plain clothes all week, and it isn't until the last evening they find out that they have been playing with law enforcement officers all week.
"We want them to know that law enforcement are people too," said Terry White from the Missoula Count Youth Court. "The kids have a lot of fun and they learn that we can be a lot of fun."
This was the 31st year Missoula County Law Enforcement officers held the camp. The camp is free and offered to kids who have never had an opportunity to attend a summer camp. The ages range from nine to eleven.
Donations ranging from $10 to $10,000 allow the camp to be offered at no cost to the families. The cost of the camp is around $15,000. The Washington Corporation out of Missoula donates $10,000 each year to the camp.
Sheriff Doug Chase and County Commissioner Fern Hart attended the closing ceremonies on July 31st. Around 200 people attended the dinner, skits and award ceremony.
The kids are given awards for their accomplishments during the week. The prizes range from fishing poles to 10-speed bicycles.