For the past four years a one-of-a-kind summer camp for teenagers has been running at Yale University.
But instead swimming and bonfires, campers enjoy 5 a.m. physical training and explosive device demonstrations as part of the elite Future Law Enforcement Youth Academy or FLEYA.
“FLEYA was really life-changing,” said Megan Fortier, a junior at St. Paul’s Catholic High School in Bristol. “I don’t think I could have ever gotten the knowledge and information from anywhere else.”
Fortier was one of 13 girls accepted to the program last summer. Thirteen boys aged 15-18 rounded out the group. FLEYA only accepts about 10 percent of teens who apply.
FBI Outreach Specialist Charles Grady and Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins created the program to offer teens with a passion for law enforcement a view into what could be their future.
“Before I had like 5 different career paths, I wanted to be a vet, I wanted to be a doctor but all the sudden I come here and it’s like now I have a set path,” said Notre Dame-West Haven senior Kamron Bell.
Panels with Secret Service agents and human trafficking experts teach the teens all week –along with visits from experts with the U.S.Marshall’s Office and the DEA.
“We need to do something to ensure that the next generation of law enforcement has a greater understanding of their purpose,” said Grady.
The program has been adopted by a handful of campuses across the nation –but Higgin’s hopes it gains even more momentum to answer a question he has long asked himself.
“What we can do to not only inspire but to co-produce our next generation of public safety professionals,” Higgins questions.
A sentiment learned at FLEYA by a recent graduate may just be the answer.
“It’s not about the work that you’re doing it’s about the people you’re helping,” Aidan Ricciardelli, a senior at Branford High School
The academy running this summer will be taking applications for campers until April 5. To see all the requirements needed to participate, click here.