Imprints Cares campers
A field trip to the playground at Hanes Park turned into a harrowing experience for some young children on their first day of summer camp.
As children enrolled in an Imprints Cares summer camp played on slides and swings and ate snacks, police rushed to the area and told camp counselors to clear the area. A man with a gun was on the loose.
With police acting as an escort, the counselors gathered the kids and looked for somewhere safe to go, said Shannon Heck, the director of development and marketing for Imprints Cares.
A neighbor, watching the scene unfold, called to them: “Bring them in. Bring them in.”
The kids, some still holding their snacks, took shelter in his apartment on Clover Street. Another apartment renter also invited the young campers in.
A woman at the park with her young children had nowhere to go and tagged along.
Meanwhile, the camp’s leadership rushed to the park and emailed parents about the situation.
Once police lifted the lockdown, the children were loaded onto a bus and taken back to the camp’s base at Meadowlark Middle School.
Back at Meadowlark, camp leaders talked to parents about the afternoon.
“There was a lot of emotion. It’s an emotional moment,” Heck said. “We explained how responsive police were.”
The camp will have mental health counselors available for the kids on Tuesday, she said.
After the end of a long, emotionally-wrought day, Heck and other leaders with Imprint Cares had one final task — to find and thank the people on Clover Street who opened their homes.
– Lisa O’Donnell