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Sandburg Hosts Youth Camps on Manners, Criminal Justice

GALESBURG — Several children took part in two different youth camps hosted this week by Carl Sandburg College’s Corporate & Leisure College. Here’s a look at what students learned at these camps focusing on manners and criminal justice.

To learn more about other youth camps and programs at Sandburg, visit the Corporate & Leisure webpage on or email


It didn’t take long for the participants at Sandburg’s inaugural manners camp to start incorporating what they had learned.

“We just heard from a parent out in the hallway that the mom tried to interrupt the dad and the child said, ‘You're not supposed to interrupt when someone’s talking,’” said Tracy Engstrom, Sandburg’s coordinator of career development. “They're already taking the message home, which is wonderful.”

Don’t Slurp Your Spaghetti: A Modern-Day Manners Camp was a two-day event for children ages 7-11 that covered topics such as conducting proper conversations, being a good friend, telephone manners, sportsmanship, writing thank-you notes and table manners. And while there was a focus on politeness, the camp also had an emphasis on having fun. Engstrom, a certified children’s etiquette consultant who led the camp, said having such habits ingrained at an early age pays dividends now and as an adult.

“We just want to always make sure children are able to show those proper manners so that moving forward they're able to display those in school, in public and to their parents,” Engstrom said. “Then when they do get that job when they’re older, they have learned all the skills that they need to be successful.”

After learning about table manners, the camp’s second day featured a lunch with spaghetti and meatballs in which participants, dressed in semi-formal attire, were tasked with applying their new skills. For many, it was an eye-opening experience.

“I didn’t even know there were two forks,” said 11-year-old Vann Olcott of Alexis. “I didn’t know there was a dessert spoon.”

Vann was unsure of what to expect when his mother signed him up for a manners camp, but he said he took away plenty of lessons that he can use moving forward. For example, instead of sitting at his computer slouched back with his feet up like he normally would, he now plans to sit straight up with better posture.

“That felt really good because I had never done it before. I definitely know from now on I'm going to sit in my chair correctly because it hurts my back to lay like that,” Vann said. “These are all helpful for life when you're going to a wedding party, a fancy place or any occasion. It just has useful life skills.”


A group of detectives was on the case of a burglary at Sandburg, but these weren’t officers in uniform. They were students ranging from ages 11-14 taking part in a two-day criminal justice camp.

“It’s been really fun,” said 12-year-old Aubrey Hall of Monmouth. “I knew we were going to investigate something, but I had no idea what it would be or what to expect. I really like investigating.”

Participants in the Get a Clue camp walked through key elements of criminal investigations, such as how to examine a crime scene, search for evidence and properly collect it, all while using the same techniques and materials as actual law enforcement officials.

“We broke down how everything evolves from the commission of the crime to the conviction of the suspect,” said Sandburg coordinator of criminal justice Dr. Christopher Barber, who led the camp.

Highlights for the students included dusting for and lifting fingerprints as well as using an electrostatic dust lifter to collect footprints. They also created shoe castings for footprints they had found outside at the crime scene. Campers also learned an important lesson that crimes aren’t necessarily solved in a tidy 60 minutes like they might find on shows like “CSI” or “Law & Order.”

“One of the biggest benefits is it gives them the idea that what they see on TV doesn't quite happen that way in reality,” Barber said. “It really shows them that there's a lot that goes into doing investigative work.”

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