ST. CLOUD - For the first time girls around St. Cloud had the chance to go through the St. Cloud Youth Leadership Academy.

The girls in the academy spent a week under the supervision and direction of the St. Cloud Police Department. From the time they woke up, to the time they went to sleep, the girls went through rigorous training aimed at teamwork, self-esteem and respect.

Some of the activities included rope climbing, classes, zip lines, and team-building exercises.

Officer Dawn Shattuck was the drill sergeant for the week, she says all the girls surprised her over the previous week.

"They were fantastic in their ability to adapt to a situation they were unprepared for. They learned a lot of teamwork throughout the whole week. I know they have the tools to accomplish their goals and dreams in life."

One of the 12 girls who went through the academy was 14-year-old Jamyra Houston. The aspiring army recruit says Officers like Sharttuck helped teach her things she will take with her the rest of her life.

"We learned [about] discipline and team building. [They taught] us how we can have a better life because people believe in us."

On the last day of the academy, the girls were recognized for all their hard work at their graduation ceremony.

Mayor Dave Kleis and Police Chief Blair Anderson both spoke at the inaugural Girls SCYLA event and honored the girls in the academy as well as the officers who helped make the camp a success.

Justin LaBounty WJON