RCMP-led soccer camps in Burnaby are returning this summer — and they're expanding.
Mounties are expected to host 150 kids aged eight to 13 during three camps this year at Edmonds Park (July 26 to 28), Confederation Park (Aug. 9 to 11) and Bonsor Park (Aug. 23 to 25).
The camps began in 2017 when Cst. Kwame Amoateng brought a group of local kids together in the Edmonds area to connect with youth at a grassroots level in a sports-based environment.
And it appears interest continues to grow with each passing year.
In a statement, Burnaby RCMP explains the detachment saw "unprecedented demand" from the community with more than 300 applications for only 150 spots available.
Priority was given to applicants referred to the camps from other organizations in the community.
"We continue to see huge demand for these camps from our community here in Burnaby," says Insp. Kathy Hartwig, who is in charge of community programs.
"The camps provide a special and unique opportunity for kids and for the Burnaby RCMP staff, including the officers and municipal employees, who support the camp by taking on skills, coaching and educational roles.
"Our staff do this based on their desire to interact and work with youth in a positive way."
Participants will be coached by Burnaby RCMP Youth Section Officer Cst. Dave Morris, who played professionally with the Vancouver Whitecaps from 1999 to 2007.
"Sports has the power to unite people," Morris adds.
"It was rewarding last year to hear from kids about their experience at the camps and what it was like for them to interact with police in this unique setting. We are looking forward to creating more positive experiences for kids this year."