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Published June 29, 2022

Not Your Average Summer Camp

Written by
Geremy Olson
| The Dakotan

Last week nine young men and women made the trip to the North Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy, or LETA, in Bismarck. While many teens are attending sports camps this summer, these nine teens spent five days learning what it takes to be a career law enforcement officer.

Unlike other summer camps, the application process for the North Dakota Highway Patrol Youth Academy was a little more in-depth. Students first fill out an application complete with references and an essay describing their interest in law enforcement. The training cadre then talks with parents and references to see if each applicant will be able to meet the standards set forth by the youth academy.

“People don’t give kids credit these days,” said Sergeant Wade Kadrmas of the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

The first day the instructors outline the expectations the academy has for attendees. It included how to make a bed and clean each dorm room and being on time for physical training each morning. Cell phones were not taken away, which isn’t the case at most camps, but the expectations of their use was made clear according to student Morgan Olson of Washburn.

Sergeant Kadrmas, looking back at the expectations set forth for the students, said, “I think they adapted pretty well.”

According to Sergeant Kadrmas, the purpose of the North Dakota Highway Patrol Youth Academy is to connect with the youth of the state, giving them an introduction into what it takes to be a career law enforcement officer. In North Dakota this is not only city police, county sheriff, or State Patrol, but also probation officers, game wardens, and ND Parks & Recreation Rangers.

The description of the academy is as follows:
“The North Dakota Highway Patrol Youth Academy is a one-week residential learning experience for young adults. The physically and mentally demanding program will challenge all participants. Students will learn basic duties of a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper, participate in a physical training program, and gain an understanding of NDHP’s commitment to our communities and our state.”

Students had the opportunity to learn from officers from across North Dakota in the areas of their of experience with the foundational interaction from the cadre of the LETA. Each student was given hands-on training in several areas of focus, including firearm safety, defensive driving, crash investigation, how to conduct a traffic stop, defensive tactics, criminal law, aircraft operation, motor carrier inspections, police service dogs, tasers, and leadership.

“It allowed us to see how police officers are trained and the mental investment that it takes to be a career law-enforcement officer,” said Olson, adding, “Getting a perfect score on the emergency vehicle operator course was definitely memorable, but the most fun was doing the shoot-no-shoot simulator. This last week gave me an appreciation for what law-enforcement goes through on a day-to-day basis.”

After five days of training all nine young men and women graduated with smiles on their faces, a new appreciation for law enforcement, and a pathway into a future career.

The North Dakota Law Enforcement Training Academy and the North Dakota Highway Patrol are looking forward to next year’s youth academy. Information and application will be made available on the state highway patrol website when dates are set for the 2023 the youth academy.

Geremy Olson grew up in the outdoors. After being burned as a volunteer firefighter, he had to figure out how to teach outdoor skills to his children from a wheelchair while learning to walk. Today he is an inspirational speaker, author, FCA Outdoors ND director, tournament director, video producer, wildfire consultant, and proud father of the owners of Missouri Secrets Tackle & Secrets to Fishing. GOspeaks.live

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