JoCo Parks and Rec starts new safety campaign after gun scare at day camp

GARDNER, Kan. -- Important conversations about safety are taking place after a gun discharged in a 10-year-old boy's backpack during a day camp.

The incident happened Tuesday during the Mad Science Camp at the New Century Field House in Gardner. The gun shot a hole into the floor. Thankfully no one was hurt.

The Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department said its held several meetings over the past 24 hours to figure out how to prevent this from ever happening again.

Officers with the Johnson County Parks Police spoke with the child who brought the gun and say it’s unlikely he intended to harm anyone.

“To be honest, the child was very scared. He had not expected that to happen,” Capt. Rob Weber with Johnson County Parks Police said.

“Honestly, I think he was doing what some 10-year-old boys do. He thought it was kind of cool. He found out different,” Weber added.

The park board is working to update safety protocols at its facilities.

“We talked about numerous things that we might implement, and of course some of those things, like policy and procedural changes, take a little bit of time,” said Jill Geller, executive director of the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department.

Now, they’re launching a new campaign encouraging parent participation

“It’s called 'Take a minute. See what’s in it,' just encouraging parents to check their child's backpack before they leave for school, for camp, for a sports program, and check it again when they come home. What does your child have in his or her backpack? Make sure it’s appropriate for their days activities,” Geller said.

Department leaders say over the past 24 hours many parents have voiced concerns with how quickly they were notified.

“We’re also again looking at internal processes on how we might better address or more proactively address such situations,” Geller said.

Mad Science Camp resumed Wednesday as scheduled. Program directors said only a few children showed up for camp. Refunds will be given to parents who don`t wish to bring their kids back.

The child who brought the gun is prohibited from attending future Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department camps.

The Mad Science Camp is run by a Lenexa-based company. Company leaders say they've met with the parks department and are working with that agency to discuss future safety measures.

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