Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
Commissioner's Comments - Trooper Island Offers Life-Changing Experience To Young Campers
By Rodney Brewer, Kentucky State Police Commissioner
Date of News Release: 06/23/2008
(Frankfort, KY) - In 1966, more than two dozen Kentucky State Troopers embarked on an ambitious project that later became known as Trooper Island. Under the watchful eye of then director Ted Bassett, a 34- acre island straddling the Kentucky/Tennessee border became home to a summer camp that would eventually benefit thousands of Kentucky youngsters less fortunate than most. However, from inception Trooper Island was envisioned as more of a life-changing experience than just another summer camping experience. Early supporters included churches, Optimists, Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis Clubs from around the Commonwealth.
Located on Dale Hollow Lake, the curriculum and camping experience has become more sophisticated to include courses in water safety, environmental awareness, gun safety, drug prevention, personal hygiene, citizenship, and self-esteem enhancement. However, the influence and interaction with strong role models from within the Kentucky State Police has remained unchanged. One of the many unique aspects of Trooper Island is the way that children are selected to attend. Troopers are charged with the responsibility of finding candidates from the respective areas in which they patrol in each of the 120 counties in the state.
Trooper Island has now evolved into a coed camp, but still focuses on at risk youth between the ages of 10 and 12 years of age, who otherwise might not have the opportunity to attend a summer camp. Trooper Island now offers 12 full weeks of camping each summer and has extended its focus to include a camping experience to children with special needs and physical handicaps. The project remains a non-profit organization operating without the benefit of tax dollars. Campers attend the program free of charge.
Although early records are fragmented, it is estimated that more than 20,000 Kentucky youngsters have experienced summer camp at Trooper Island. It is often difficult to see or measure the results of such a program. Perhaps the strongest testament to the project is that nearly two dozen Kentucky State Troopers attended the program as children. Although never intended to be a recruitment initiative, this certainly speaks to the powerful impression that the program leaves with those who attend. After three and half decades of growth, Trooper Island continues to instill positive values and change the lives of Kentucky youngsters across the Commonwealth.