Officers of the Cary police department are giving back to its community through Camp Confidence, a mentoring partnership with its local middle schools. As a summer camp, the program offers opportunities for boys who are at-risk of pursuing the wrong path in life.

Officers of the Cary police department are giving back to its community through Camp Confidence, a mentoring partnership with its local middle schools. As a summer camp, the program offers opportunities for boys who are at-risk of pursuing the wrong path in life.

The program was initially designed to encourage healthy interactions between the Cary police officers and the local youth. It also aims to divert the path of these young men by teaching them valuable life skills in different environments.

One of their annual trips is an all-encompassing tour of Fort Bragg, which took place July 12.

The group was comprised mostly of rising high school freshmen who traveled more than an hour by bus to kick off its tour. Following the meet-up at Stryker Golf Course, the group toured both the Golden Knights Facility and the Parachute Packing Facility. The boys were taught more about the Golden Knights’ history and tried on some of the team’s equipment. They also were able to gain insight on the parachute riggers’ procedures and duties.

With this trip, Camp Confidence aspired to show the ins and outs of daily life for Soldiers on Fort Bragg, according to Officer Seth Parker. Following the tours, they made their way to the 82nd Sustainment Brigade dining facility, where they had lunch.

The group also ventured to Simmons Army Airfield for a tour of the flight simulators.

Parker watched over a group of four of these boys as they took turns testing out the Transportable Blackhawk Operational System (TBOS). The seat would lurch forward to the simulated aerial view where each boy attempted to land the Blackhawk without crashing.

According to Parker, this will be Camp Confidence’s nearly seventh trip to Fort Bragg over the years.

Parker said, “I think it’s good for them to experience military life, life here on the base. When I was growing up, I was never exposed to stuff like this, and it opens your eyes, and it’s not just like the movies.”

The boys laughed and talked among themselves about the how simulations remind them of video games at home, but also noted how more difficult it is to steer the helicopter. The simulation mimicked the physics and movements of the actual experience.

According to the flight simulator instructor, Weldon Burton, the simulations show certain things that pilots can’t see live in the air, such as severe weather or cloud cover. They also train for emergency procedures and landings.

Simmons also provides simulations of the Longbow Crew Trainer (LCT AH-64D), Transportable Flight Proficiency Simulator (TFPS CH-47F), Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer (AVCATT) and Non-Rated Crewmember Trainer (NCM3).

Jordan McCallum, 14, said he liked the simulations and was surprised how realistic they were. Bryan Nelson, 14, also enjoyed the tour of the equipment because not many people get the opportunity where he’s from to have that experience.

The rise of mentorship programs provides a human connection for kids who might not have a trusted adult figure in their life. According to the youth.gov website, mentorship programs like these have statistically shown to increase high school and college graduation rates, improve behavior and relationships, lower dropout rates, as well as decrease the likelihood of drug and alcohol use.

“It’s always great, every time we come here,” said Parker. “Hopefully, it opens their eyes to the possibility of a career. That’s why we’re bringing them down here.”