The Blue Springs Police Department is in the middle of a summer sports program meant to build more than just athletic skills. Its Life Sports Camp is showing young students, from sixth to eighth grade, how good sportsmanship goes beyond the playing field, and how making the right decisions can impact their lives.

Sgt. Joe Fanara said the week-long camp, which has two sessions with 50 kids each, is also a good chance for the students to become acquainted with local law enforcement on a personal level, as officers lead them through activities throughout the week.

“When you get kids getting ready to go into middle school, going into high school, what we want to do is build up everything for those kids,” he said. ‘Because they’re going into a more competitive environment.”

In between games like football and field hockey, which the officers use to showcase proper sportsmanship, talk sessions are held to address tough issues such as depression, and suicide prevention.

“You’re going to have a lot of ups in life and you’re going to have a lot of downs in life, and everyone is susceptible to it,” Fanara said. “The main thing is to always keep your head on your shoulders and look up to the right things in life.” One of the main goals of the camp, according to Fanara, is to make sure kids know there are resources in the community they can turn to if they need help.

One of the talks, held during the first day of the second session on Monday, was led by former Chiefs player Deron Cherry, who aimed to inspire the kids with his own message.

“In life, you get opportunities. Some of them are good opportunities, some of them are bad opportunities. … You’re going to be faced with decisions in your life and they’re going to fall into one of those two categories,” he told the kids. “How you react to a situation and what you do is going to determine maybe your outcome and your future.”

This is the second year the department has held the camp. It’s free to students living in the Blue Springs School District as well as home-schooled kids. After last year’s success, Fanara said they wanted to hold it again to keep inspiring students to achieve excellence, whether they stay on the field or follow another path.

“They may want to be a major league baseball player, and hopefully they make it,” Fanara said, “but if they don’t there’s other things in life they should be looking forward to.”