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Chester County Press

State Trooper plans a day for special-needs children and adults

06/28/2016 08:31AM ● By J. Chambless

Pennsylvania State Police trooper Samantha Minnucci with Camp Cadet participants last summer. On Aug. 6, Minnucci will offer a one-day version of the camp

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The lessons learned and the experiences shared at Camp Cadet each summer will be brought to special-needs children and adults at Sunny Day Camp, scheduled Aug. 6 at Penn Township Park.
Pennsylvania State Trooper Samantha Minnucci, who has been part of the Camp Cadet program for four years, came up with the idea for the first Sunny Day Camp this year. The Camp Cadet concept was the vision of a Pennsylvania State Trooper in 1970, as a way to promote good relations between police and young people. The first Camp Cadet began in Butler Pa. Today, there are 26 different Camp Cadet programs throughout the state, including the one held locally at Camp Saginaw in Oxford.

The week-long camp combines the usual summer rituals – campfires, boating, swimming and plenty of chow – with lessons in regimentation, rigorous exercise and a just a taste of what being in the military is like.
“Anyone can apply as long as they fall under the criteria of being a Chester County resident and being between the ages of 11 and 13,” Minnucci said this week about Camp Cadet. “We do not discriminate against anyone, but at the same time, we know how challenging the long, hot days full of exercise, plus a week-long overnight camp, are not for everyone. Also, our staff usually 20 troopers or law enforcement agents to 120 kids, which makes it very challenging to be able to be with someone one-on-one for a special need or disability. Sunny Day Camp is only a one-day event, and there will be numerous volunteers and family members present, so we will then be able to give more one-on-one attention to those who may need it.”

Trooper Minnucci was inspired to start the Sunny Day Camp, in part, because of the challenges faced by her younger brother, Gabriel.

 “I wanted a program where no one would be left out of learning about the law-enforcement agencies which serve the community,” Minnucci said. “I came up with the name Sunny Day because Gabriel is a ray of sunshine in my life.” Minnucci was inspired to start Sunny Day Camp, in part, by her younger brother, Gabriel.
“Gabriel has an amazing personality and lights up any room when he walks into it,” she said. “He has the biggest heart and has always been my number-one fan in my career choice. When I became camp director in 2014, Gabriel was eager to help me set up for the event. Once camp was over, he asked numerous questions about how it went and how he was so excited to one day be able to do Camp Cadet. Unfortunately, I knew that would not be possible for him due to him being over the age limit for camp, and also due to his special needs. A week-long overnight camp would be very challenging for him. I began to think of other options, and I couldn't think of any, so I decided to start one.
The one-day event will include demonstrations by the police Canine Unit, a police helicopter and other vehicles, demonstrations by the Bomb Squad and SERT Team, games and a DJ. Lunch and snacks will be included. The event is free, but registration is required by visiting
“The day will start off with registration, and then the participants and their families can tour all the emergency response vehicles and speak with police, firefighters, and EMS personnel,” Minnucci said. “Then a rotation of presentations will begin. This will give the participants a look into the wide variety of specialty positions of law enforcement and have some hands-on activities.”

The event is held in conjunction with Chester County Camp Cadet board of directors and Special Olympics.
“Since this is the first year, I would love to reach the 50 to 75 mark,” Minnucci said of reservation goals. “I know there are so many children and adults that have never been given this opportunity, so I would like to reach as many people as possible and continue to grow in years to come. We can handle more than 100, so if we can adequately spread the word, I believe that can happen.”
Sunny Day Camp is funded strictly by donations from individuals and businesses, separate from the donations that go toward Camp Cadet. Troopers and other law enforcement professionals serve as counselors and donate their off-duty time.
“I believe that this experience will affect all those who attend, whether it as a volunteer, an applicant, or a family member,” Minnucci said. “I can only hope that this event with brighten up lives and will be an enlightening, growing experience for all.”
Sunny Day Camp will be held Saturday, Aug. 6, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Penn Township Park (260 Lewis Rd., West Grove, PA 19390). Any questions can be referred to Trooper Samantha Minnucci at 610-268-2102, or Angie Robinson at 484-431-8637 (Special Olympics).

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email [email protected].