Trooper Jonathan Biven
Public Affairs Officer
Kentucky State Police
Post 3, Bowling Green
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Trooper Island Anniversary Stirs Memories
Western Kentucky Trooper Has Long, Strong Ties To Camp
Date of News Release: 08/02 /2005
(Bowling Green, KY) - FRANKFORT, KY (Aug. 2, 2005) - Some of Jere Hopson's earliest summer memories are about going with his father to a newly established youth camp that was unique among Kentucky camps for kids.
Trooper Island camp, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, was where Hopson tagged along with his father, the late Kentucky State Police Tpr. Jere Hopson Sr., beginning when he was five years old.
"My dad helped build Trooper Island. He was there every year, from 1966 to the early 70s," recalled Hopson, who is now a KSP sergeant in the agency's Drug enforcement/Special Investigations Branch. "We slept in Army tents... I thought that was so cool," recalled Hopson. "The Army or National Guard would drop boxes attached to parachutes onto the island. They were like CARE packages, but really had candy in them."
Hopson, who grew up in Simpson County, was exposed to the life of a trooper through his father, a Logan County native. However, he said his Trooper Island experiences are what confirmed his interest in joining the KSP. "It (going to camp) gave me the opportunity to discover things I didn't know about KSP," said Hopson. "I met a lot of troopers, saw how each did different things. Trooper Island is why I became a trooper."
In 1965, the Kentucky State Police purchased a 34-acre island in Dale Hollow Lake in Clinton County, appropriately named it Trooper Island and had it declared a charitable, non-profit organization. Troopers cleared much of the land by hand and served at first as the camp's sole counselors. In Trooper Island's earliest years, there were only two one-week camps, children slept in Army tents and activities were built upon year by year.
Today, troopers and college-age counselors work 12 camps during the 10-week season packed with activities. At season's end, 700 children have played tag football, learned about fingerprinting and canoed the lake, all while troopers present positive role models to instill them with affirmative self images.
But the goals have remained the same through the years, says KSP Commissioner Mark L. Miller. "The troopers lend their time to the camp to foster leadership, teamwork and citizenship. They show them that police officers can be friends and mentors," said Miller. "It's a unique, enduring program that we continue to build on so children can get the most out of their experiences there."
Hopson's son, Connor, attended this year, and Hopson was happy his son could see what his grandfather helped establish. "The ultimate goal of the camp is that campers come to know the trooper as a person, not just a law enforcement officer," noted Hopson. "Dad would get letters from campers and there was one kid who lived where I did and would always ask how dad was doing. Trooper Island ... it's pretty dear to me."
The free camp is for girls and boys 10-12 years of age whose families may be unable to afford camp. Although early record keeping was spotty at the camp, it's estimated that 20,000 children have been to Trooper Island. Hopson, who was later a camper and then a counselor at Trooper Island, is one of a few hundred Trooper Island campers or counselors over the years who went on to become KSP troopers.
Children can be recommended by contacting a state police post. In addition to regular camps, three special camps include one for Hispanic children to help bridge the cultural gap, one for children awaiting heart transplants and one for children with phenylketonuria (PKU), a genetic condition that can cause mental retardation when not detected and treated early in infancy.
Fundraiser for Trooper Island
The Kentucky State Police (KSP) is holding its biggest single fundraising event for the camp, the raffling of a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle to benefit Trooper Island Inc. Each $10 ticket earns the buyer a chance to win a 2005 Harley-Davidson® FLSTF/FLSTFI Fat Boy® motorcycle. This fundraiser and other donations help the camp continue to host free summer camps.
To obtain raffle tickets, contact any Kentucky State Police post or call the KSP Public Affairs Branch in Frankfort at (502) 782-1780. A maximum of 15,000 tickets will be sold.The drawing will be held during the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville at 4 p.m. EST, on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2005, at the KSP exhibit in the South Wing of the Kentucky State Fair and Exposition Center. Tickets may be purchased at the state fair. The winning ticket holder does not need to be present to win.
This raffle is being conducted via Charitable Gaming License #0000633.
Tax-deductible donations may be made to: Trooper Island Camp, P. O. Box 473, Albany, KY 42602
Western Kentucky area posts to contact for Trooper Island motorcycle raffle tickets:
Bowling Green Post: 270-782-2010
Henderson Post: 270-826-4796
Madisonville Post: 270-676-3313
Mayfield Post: 270-856-3721