After sending off my 8-year-old son to Scotland, Md., this summer for his first camping experience, I decided to visit the camp as well. I hoped my presence would not distract him, but I couldn't contain my curiosity; I never had the opportunity to attend camp myself.

After a two-hour drive, I turned onto the winding, narrow road that leads to Camp Brown, summer retreat of the Metropolitan Police Boys' and Girls' Clubs, located in an easily accessible world of its own in St. Mary's County. Officer Jerry Swanson escorted me to the recreation hall, where orientation for new campers was being conducted. Various staff members were introducing themselves to the campers and giving out cabin assignments. I was then introduced to Officer Michael Huskins, who conducted my tour of the facility, from the mess hall to nature center, the arts and crafts area, the clinic, the swimming pool and the complex where 44 cabins house 300 campers. Camp Director Eddie Banks and others explained the routine, which incorporates military-type discipline from reveille to cabin inspection to taps.

Perhaps the activities at Camp Brown are not different from those of many other camps. But here -- at no charge -- city kids find new life, special tranquility and experience that become memories to take home with them.

I left the camp with a very warm feeling. So, it seems, do the hundreds of kids who are lucky enough to spend some summer days there. The Metropolitan Police Department should be highly commended for the exceptional and important job it is doing at Camp Brown for the children of Greater Washington.