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C.O.P.S Camp helps children of fallen officers cope with grief

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jul 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-09 19:41:40-04

More than 150 children got a police escort to Camp Lake in Kenosha County for the Concerns of Police Survivors, or C.O.P.S Camp. The camp is for children aged 6-to-14- years- old who have lost a parent or a guardian in the line of duty.

Each child is accompanied by their parent and together they are taught new skills from current law enforcement officers and mentors like archery and fishing. There are counselors on hand to help the children of all ages cope with their grief.

Leslyn Stewart lost her husband, Dillon Stewart in the line of duty in 2005. He was a detective with the New York Police Department.

"I had two girls, a six-year-old and a four-month-old at the time, so it was beyond devastating," said Leslyn.

She said her husband loved his job but more than anything loved being a father.

"The most amazing thing about Dillon was how much he loved his family," said Leslyn.

Leslyn's youngest daughter Samantha was 4-months-old when her father was killed. She said although she was young, there are still many things she misses about her hero.

"I miss not being able to make memories with him. He’s definitely my hero," said Samantha.

The camp has helped Samantha open up about her grief and she has learned, it's OK not to be OK sometimes.

"I’ve learned people progress at a different rate," said Samantha.

Leslyn said dealing with the death of her husband and raising two small children was tough but through the support of the New York Police Department and with C.O.P.S, she was able to find strength.

"Concerns of Police Survivors is the only organization that supports you through a lifetime," said Leslyn.

The camp has also helped Leslyn find support by connecting her with other spouses that have gone through the same experience.

"That's kind of support is what you need to deal with grief," said Leslyn.

The goal is for campers to leave the week with a continuing support system of peers who truly understand and gain a sense of personal growth with hope for the future.

To learn more about C.O.P.S camp click here.