The gym was filled with the sound of bouncing balls and laughter, so nobody heard the helicopter landing outside.
The Byram Blue Dawgs summer camp is the brain child of Detective Judson Magloire, who was involved in a similar program when he was a Vicksburg. He said one day he arrested three juveniles in a felony crime. The youngest of them was crying when he told Magloire that there was nothing to do in Byram, so he had gotten involved in crime.
“That night I really couldn’t sleep. I felt God brought that idea to me,” he said. “This summer I’m not going to give any kid a reason to get into something mischeivous.”
Each week there’s a special speaker on Thursday, and last week it was the crew of Trooper One, the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s helicopter.
Byram Police Chief David Errington said most of the volunteers who run the camp are Byram Police Department employees, and there are also some volunteers from local churches.
“They are hot out here, working on their own time, they’re volunteering their time,” he said. “We hope this will bring the community together and that this will grow.”
Errington said donations of food and supplies are welcome as the camp provides food, a t-shirt, and entertainment for the children for $20 a person. Donations of sponsorships are also welcome.
Byram Mayor Richard White said he’s excited the program because of the outreach to the community’s children.
“People come in here and speak to them and encourage them and not get on to them,” he said. “They encourage them to stick tight and have a team effort here.”
Alderman Robert Amos was also on hand Thursday, and spoke briefly to the kids as well.
“I’m so proud of this program, this is an awesome program for these kids to give them something to od and it gives them the opportunity to have mentors,” he said. “This can be all about the game of life and the world we live in, and hopefully we can keep doing this in the future.”
The program will end July 28 in a “Back to School Bash” in which 1000 backpacks will be given out to children on their way back to school.
“If I can keep even one juvenile from turning to crime, this program was a success,” Magloire said.