More Than 70 Teens Attend Elaborate Youth CSI Summer Camp

(FLORENCE, AZ) - After watching deputies swarm to a mock crime scene, and the 'defendant' later put on 'trial' in a real courtroom, one of the student jurors admitted the experience far exceeded his hopes.

"It was really fun," said Damien, a student about to enter the 8th grade. "I wasn't expecting any of it."

The 3rd Annual Youth CSI Summer Camp, hosted by the Pinal County Attorney's Office in partnership with the Poston Butte High School STEM program, saw record attendance this June. More than 70 teens attended the four-day camp.

"This camp actually helped me plan out exactly what I [want] to do, where I want to go," said student Sincerity.

The camp this year expanded to four days, adding a career fair, where students were able to meet with dozens of agencies and organizations. The camp also included a day spent on forensic science & fingerprinting, another day with a mock crime scene at Poston Butte High School, and then two mock trials with real judges at Pinal County Superior Court.

"I think the trial was my favorite part," Sincerity said. "Hearing everybody's testimony and seeing where it's going."

The mock crime this year featured a botched burglary, which ended with a staff member fatally 'shot.' Evidence at the scene, and related testimony, tasked the student jurors with figuring out who was involved, and ultimately if the 'suspects' were guilty of homicide.

The Youth CSI Summer Camp is geared towards teens with an interest in criminal justice, giving them an in-depth look at the many different roles, from first responders and investigators, to the court and trial process.

"Quite frankly, this is one of the coolest events we've been able to provide to the community," said County Attorney Kent Volkmer. "I hope the students find it beneficial, fun and helpful as they consider their future aspirations."

Given the record attendance, this year featured two separate, but similar, mock crime scenes, and subsequently two separate 'trials.' This allowed as many students as possible to take part in processing evidence, acting as jurors, and also getting paired up with the prosecution, defense and the judges during the court process.

"Learning new things that I didn't know was actually pretty awesome," Sincerity said.

The massive four day camp, which is free, comes with significant partnerships throughout the community. The Pinal County Attorney's Office would like to thank Poston Butte High School, AMR Arizona, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, Apache Junction Police Department, Rural Metro Fire, Pinal County Superior Court Judge Fuller and Judge Holmberg, the Pinal County Medical Examiner's Office and all the agencies which participated in the career fair.

For Damien, who was a vocal participant during jury deliberations, the experience was better than he thought when his mother signed him up.

"I thought it was going to be more boring," he said. "It was super fun."

And, educational.

"Almost everything I learned was new," he said.

Registration is not yet open for the 2025 camp, but updates will be forthcoming.