PORTSMOUTH — After hearing about some local boys who might be heading down "the wrong path," patrol officer Thompson "TJ" Potter launched a fundraiser with a goal of sending five local boys to a lakeside overnight camp next month.
Potter said he was filling in as a school resource officer at Portsmouth Middle School when he heard from a teacher about boys who "weren’t bad kids, or in trouble at the school," but was worried "they could fall in with ‘the wrong crowd.'"
"We both spoke about how summer camp was so beneficial to steer us both away from that type of crowd and thus the idea was born," Potter said. "The idea is that the Police Department will assist in getting them to my alma matter, North Woods Camp for boys."
Potter said the YMCA overnight camp is in Tuftonboro/Wolfeboro on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee.
"It is a beatific place that builds its traditions around caring, respect and responsibility," he said. "I believe that these young men will benefit from this place by building lasting friendships and memories. This type of experience was perfect for me. It helped build my self-esteem and confidence, and gave me some great memories to rely on in hard times. I am confident these boys will benefit from that type of experience, and prepare them for the pressure and responsibility of high school."
Potter sent letters to the parents and guardians of the five local boys, introducing himself and saying he and the Police Department hope to provide two weeks of summer camp to the five middle school boys. He said the camp "was founded in 1929 and provides a safe, positive environment for young men to learn some great skills like horseback riding, sailing and archery."
"The summer between eighth and ninth grade can be critical for boys, as they are getting ready for the pressure and responsibility of high school," Potter wrote. "I believe the positive experiences from summer camp can help build a foundation of good self-esteem, and will help with this important transition."
Potter said Camp North Woods and the YMCA will provide scholarship assistance for the local boys and the Police Department is raising the balance.
"I am actively looking for benefactors and partners in this endeavor to ensure these young men get to share in that type of positive, life-building experience," Potter said.
To provide financial assistance for the camping program, email Pottert@cityofportsmouth.com or call (603) 610-7642 for details about how to donate.