Haverhill Police Free Summer Camp Accepting Applications Until June 30

Haverhill Police's free summer camp runs from July 9-August 10 and applications are due by June 30. (File photograph)

The Haverhill Police Department’s free summer camp for city children ages 8-11 is accepting applications through June 30 ahead of the camp’s kickoff on Monday, July 9.

Facilitated by Consentino’s School Resource Officer Stephen Iannalfo, the Gang Resistance Education and Training Camp, known as GREAT, is an updated iteration of the former DARE program of years’ past. Targeted to city students from all schools, the program offers an abbreviated version of the team building and gang prevention curriculum Iannalfo teaches during the school year.

All camp activities, including Friday field trips and guest speaker sessions, are free to all who apply, Iannalfo tells WHAV. Funded in part by the Haverhill Police Department, the remainder of camp costs are raised by Iannalfo and subsidized by corporate partners like Trinity EMS, Eastern Bank and Coppola Bus, among others.

In the 10 years since Iannalfo started as a school resource officer, he’s seen a need for the program to shift from drug abuse education to gang awareness education. Some children, says Iannalfo, are in dire need of the structure the camp program provides.

“If they’re not involved in camp here and given an alternative to hanging out on the street corners, then that’s where they’re going to be,” the officer reasons. “A lot of these kids are from challenging backgrounds. If these kids didn’t come with me, a lot of them would never leave Haverhill.”

The overarching goal of the camp, Iannalfo tells WHAV, is to change kids’ perception of police—especially in neighborhoods like Mount Washington that have faced recent violence.

“I still have the stigma of being ‘The Cop,’ especially with families and parents, but with the kids, they’re a clean slate,” he told WHAV. “They’re not ‘poisoned’ by police yet, and those are the ones we’re trying to reach—to prove that we’re not all bad guys. We’re not ‘boogeymen.’”

To participate in the Haverhill Police GREAT/DARE DAYS summer camp, pick up an application at the Bailey Boulevard police station. All applications must be returned by June 30 and Iannalfo will contact applicants with more information ahead of the camp, which runs from July 9-August 10 at Consentino, 685 Washington St.