LOUISVILLE (WATE) - Some Knoxville police officers took on the role of drill sergeants this week for a group of at-risk kids. This is the 16th year for the Phillip Moore Outreach Boot Camp.
"We teach them to persevere under difficult situations," explained Knoxville Police Sgt. Shawn Neal. "The children are learning military discipline, they're learning drilling ceremonies. There's an essay writing contest and they receive classes on gun and drug awareness and anti-bullying."
The also kids get to go on field trips. On Thursday they went inside a KC-135 refueling plane and watched one take off at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base.
The one-week free day camp is designed to help the kids deal better with the challenges they will face growing up and help them learn to stay out of trouble.
"We try to teach them how to be self-disciplined," said Pastor Frankie Slay.
Slay's mother started the non-profit when her brother was murdered 17 years ago in East Knoxville.
"We don't take kids in the juvenile system. We try to get kids 7 to 13 who are just having a little trouble with listening and just not wanting to obey and try to turn them around," she said.
So far, it seems to be working.
"They've been very respectful. Probably the most respectful kids we've had out here," said aircraft mechanic TSgt. Derrick Dirmeyer.
There's not much wiggle room here.
"It's fun sort of, sometimes," said boot camper Linda Holmes, 8. "It teaches you that you can do anything you set your mind to."
Boot campers are referred by the school system and other local agencies. The non-profit also offers monthly parenting classes.