Published on July 15th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Students learn lessons on life, character at District Five SRO’s chess camp

In picture from the 2013 chess camp, Deputy Curtis Cannon (center) advises students on improving their moves in chess. Cannon, a Richland County Sheriff’s Department SRO at Dutch Fork High School, is holding chess camps at the school this month.

IRMO – Rising seventh grade Dutch Fork Middle School student Candace Fant has been in many camps this summer, but none like the one she attended this week.

“My mom signed me up for chess camp I think because there’s math and a lot of thinking involved in it,” Fant said. “It’s been a lot of fun, and I have learned a lot. It’s just different from any other camp I’ve been to.”

Fant is one of more than a dozen students attending one of two summer chess camps led by Richland County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Curtis Cannon. A school resource officer at Dutch Fork High School, Cannon says the camps for fourth through 10th graders are designed to teach students how to play chess and use the power of thinking.

“Chess can help students with their critical thinking and decision-making skills,” he said. “And many people consider it a way for children to increase their concentration, memory, social skills, self-esteem and a lot more. We’ve had a great response.”

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department Summer Chess Camp at Dutch Fork High School is sponsored through a county grant to provide supplies and snacks and keep costs at a low $25 per session. Participants receive lessons and workbooks on chess before playing the game for the first time at the camp, and an unrated tournament is held at the end. Now in its third year, the camp has two-week sessions which will be held July 7-18 and July 21-August 1. Tournaments will take place August 4-6. Registration is available by emailing

Though it’s open to any student in Richland County, many of the campers come from District Five schools, Cannon said.

“A lot of these students are from this area. We also have some homeschoolers and other students,” said Cannon, who also leads a chess club at Dutch Fork High School during the school year. “I think students are interested in chess. It’s a way to bring old-school thinking to a new generation and bring kids from different backgrounds together. It’s also just a lot of fun. There are lessons on life, character, strategy … a lot of lessons involved in learning the game of chess.”

For many students like Fant, the lessons learned at chess camp this summer will be useful throughout the year.

“I will continue to play chess … I already play sometimes at home,” Fant said. “It’s a fun game, and I got a chance to meet new people and interact with them. It’s been fun.”




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