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Teens Learn About Judicial System Through Court Camp

Charles Keller

Summer is filled with day camps for kids. Church camp. Basketball camp. Dance camp. You get the idea. A camp that’s somewhat new to the summer scene: Court camp.

A gunshot victim is lying on the floor. Beer bottles strewn about. Drugs are on the coffee table.

All exciting stuff for 15-year-old Purusha Weeks. She’s thinking about the future.

"I'm thinking about being a crime scene investigator because we got to do mock crime and figure out what was the problem and what had happened," Weeks says. 

Weeks was under the guidance of a real CSI as she documented and collected evidence at the mock crime scene. Parks and other students also met with public defenders, prosecutors and judges, not to mention a tour of the Mecklenburg County Jail.

It was part of a week-long court camp run by the Mecklenburg County Court system, and it’s the second summer in a row that Weeks has participated.

Court administrator Charles Keller started the program in 2009.

"I was actually driving into work one day and I kept seeing all these signs for basketball camps and swim camps and those type of camps, so I thought, why couldn't we have a court camp, a camp about the court systems?" Keller says. 

The court has grown from one session the first year, to four this summer. Each session is one week, and costs $75.

Part of the goal of Court Camp is to educate students on how trials and investigations really work in contrast to what they see on television.

Fourteen-year-old Caylee Rivers likes going behind the scenes of the court system.

Credit Tasnim Shamma
Fourteen-year-old Oree Hayes-Brown played the part of public defender in a mock trial murder case on the last day of Court Camp.

"My favorite part was just being able to go to like the different like law firms and we got to go to Parker Poe and Charlotte School of Law and we got to go to jail and all of the different like experiences we had coming into court and seeing trials and everything," Rivers says. 

Court Camp ends with a mock murder trial in a real courtroom. 

Court Camp is for teens between 14 and 18, but Keller says he hopes to launch a similar program for adults this fall. That program will be called Court College.