NORWALK, Conn. – Officer Carleton Giles bade farewell to some Norwalk sixth-graders Friday with hugs, smiles and an invitation to enjoy grape leaves.
Giles, one of two officers who led a two week Drug Abuse Resistance Education summer camp, told some of the children they should go to Greece with him in November and enjoy grape leaves and lamb near the Acropolis. He then went on to tease Joseph Malagisi about his time hanging upside down on a roller coaster at Lake Compounce.
Giles has been a D.A.R.E. officer for 15 years. He is retiring next spring, so this was his last camp.
"The camp will grow and become stronger than ever," Giles said. Officer Chris Holms "loves kids," he said.
Holms became the new D.A.R.E. coordinator last year. Both men led the camp, keeping the kids "so doggone busy" that there wasn't time to go on a mundane tour of police headquarters, according to Giles.
Last week at the Sono Field House, it was clear that Holms had taken over, supervising the sixth-graders as they tried out the rock-climbing wall.
"I'm impressed that they do it blindfolded," he said. "They didn't do that last year."
Giles watched through a window, pointing out that the girls climb the wall better because they push with their legs instead of pulling with their arms. Holms then played dodgeball with the kids.
"I keep telling them, when I score a point it's worth three because I'm three times older than they are," he said. "They don't like that, but that's life."
Of all the camp activities – the trip to the beach, the ride on a police boat, the visit to the Bronx Zoo – Christopher Montoya liked Sono Field House the best, because of the rope course.
He "absolutely loved" the two-week camp, said his mother, Maria Montoya. "(He) said it was the best camp he had ever gone to. They did so many great things."
It helped that he got to meet his future middle school classmates, she said. Adding, "Giles is phenomenal. Holms is wonderful. They're just great."