More than 50 campers took to the grounds of North Point High School stadium for the Kops & Kids Football Camp June 21 to 23.
The camp is open to boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 10 and is in its fifth year. The three-day camp focuses on sportsmanship and bullying intolerance.
While run by the school resource officer (SRO) unit of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, football players from Henry E. Lackey, La Plata and North Point high schools and other volunteers help out too. The Waldorf Jaycees make sure the campers are fed thanks to donations from Chick-fil-A, Little Caesar Pizza and Utz.
Campers have a variety of skills. Some are football devotees, others who have never seen a pigskin. The first day of camp, players are evaluated on the level of their abilities and divided up into five equally skilled teams.
On Thursday, the 10-person teams practiced plays against each other — 5-on-5 style before moving on to scrimmages against the other teams. The last day of camp, proper games are played, said Charles County Sheriff’s Officer Patrick Mann, who oversees the camp and is the SRO at St. Charles High School. The camp is an answer to the typical summer complaint of “I’m bored,” he said.
“It’s giving kids something to do over the summertime,” Mann said.
“I’ve wanted to play football my whole life,” Zachary Clark, a Mattawoman Middle School sixth grader, said. He plays for recreation and thought the camp would help him with his study of the game. “I just wanted to get to know it better.”
Sophie Medina, a fourth-grade student at Berry Elementary School, signed up for the camp despite girls playing a football may still be a rarity. “Everyone can play football,” Medina said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or girl.” Her friend Kianna Garcia, also a Berry fourth grader, isn’t a fan of playing the game, but at least she gave it a try. “You get exercise and can have some fun with it,” she said.
High school football players passed on pieces of advice to the younger players. Chelen Garnes, a North Point senior, has played football since he was a kindergartener. He now plays for his school. “It has helped me with teamwork and discipline,” he said of football.
La Plata senior Jordan Deare plays football and basketball and volunteered to help younger kids learn about sportsmanship. “… To instill in them the dedication it takes to play sports, any sport,” he said.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.