Virginia Rules Camp is a law-themed summer day-camp experience for youth hosted by Virginia law enforcement agencies. Virginia Rules camps offer young people a fun, healthy way to spend a summer week, interactive instruction on Virginia law, and the opportunity to build positive relationships with law enforcement officers that serve their communities.
Virginia Rules Camp began as partnership between the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Richmond Police Department in 2004. Recognizing the success of the Virginia Rules Camp model, Attorney General Mark Herring made funding available to other localities to host camps of their own.
In 2017, 20 localities across the state were awarded funding to host their own Virginia Rules Camps.
While law enforcement agencies are the host agencies for Virginia Rules Camps, the most successful camps partner with a variety of community stakeholders. Camp planning committees may include representatives from local schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, parks and recreation, local colleges and universities, community services boards, and other civic organizations.
Through the years, Virginia Rules Camp has proved successful in educating young people about Virginia’s laws, helping them develop the necessary skills to make sound decisions and recognize the consequences of their actions. It also gives young people a chance to interact with law enforcement officers and to form community bonds while enjoying the great outdoors and having typical camp experiences.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to watch even the shyest kids come out of their shells, find their voices, and make new friends from other parts of the city … Virginia Rules Camp provides a unique environment for young people to learn how to make good decisions for their future.” – Camp Directory, Richmond Gang Reduction and Intervention Program
Virginia Rules Camp is built around old-fashioned, outdoor summer fun, so kids enjoy activities such as swimming, fishing, canoeing, hiking and archery. Every day a lesson is taken from the Virginia Rules curriculum to teach students about Virginia laws and how to apply them in their own lives.
Visit the Virginia Rules Topics section of this site to see the full listing of lessons available.
“I have been volunteering at this camp for years, and it is one of the highlights of my summer … I love watching children go home with a smile, after I’ve been working with them all day; it makes my time at camp worthwhile. Personally, I have met great friends and co-counselors at camp and have remained friends with many of these folks for years.” – Esther Anderson, volunteer staff member
Virginia Rules Camp staff is made up of volunteers. Over the years, instructors have included community police officers, truancy officers, and patrol officers. The vast majority return to teach camp year after year, though there are always new faces.
The instructors say they love working at this camp. In so many cases, the only interaction police officers have with young people is when a problem arises and they must respond to the call. This positive, proactive experience provides a different perspective to both the officers and the kids. Staff members say they like the feeling of giving back to their community and forming positive relationships.
“I was glad to be around a lot of old friends from where I used to live. I was very excited to do some of the things I normally would not get to do in the city. I especially liked talking with the K-9 and horse officers.” – Darrell Anderson
Rising sixth through ninth graders are at the ideal age to benefit from Virginia Rules Camp. While most young people are out of school for the summer, many have little to keep them busy. At no cost to the parents, Virginia Rules Camp offers these kids positive outdoor experiences, companisonship, and an early opportunity to make healthy choices in their lives.
Staff say two types of kids arrive on the first day of camp. One group is slightly reserved and anxious. These young people may be attending solo, or they may have come with a friend or sibling. The second group is energetic, smiling, and happy to greet previous counselors and friends. These are the repat campers, delighted to return for another year.
Both groups have much in common. They have caring adults who have agreed to send them to camp. Here they meet people who live outside their neighborhoods. They get to know police officers, counselors, and a variety of volunteers ready to provide them with a meaningful experience. And at the end of the week, they return home having enjoyed an old-fashioned summer camp, supervised by caring adults and positive role models.