By David Madden

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – More than two dozen young people in Camden took part in a day-long exercise, aimed at helping them avoid potential problems with the law.

These 26 participants were selected because they’ve had not so pleasant early contact with cops. The idea here is to show them a better way.

Tim Ghallagher is a social worker who helps run Project Guardian, and he calls this an intervention.

“We present them with an opportunity to see what their future could look like if they walk away from kind of the negative behavior that they’re doing now, whether it be truancy or gang involvement or interaction with the police,” Ghallagher told KYW Newsradio.

Intertwined with group games and such are talks with law enforcement and, in this session, a Coast Guard recruiter. Organizers admit not everyone who takes part in the program turns their life around, but over the last couple years.

“We’ll be able to know a month from now, six months from now if they got in trouble within the city,” said Camden County Police Lieutenant Janell Simpson, who runs the program two or three times a year. “But we do have success stories where people don’t get into trouble at all afterwards and they’re graduating from high school and continuing on with their life. But we do have some failures where people do re-offend even though we try.”

Still, there’s been enough success to suggest it’s making a difference in some neighborhoods.

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