Camp of Champs

by Jill MacKinney ’05

From June 23-26, the APU football team sponsored the second annual Camp of Champs. This camp invites fourth to eighth grade boys and girls from the San Gabriel Valley to develop skills with APU football coaches and players. The program, whose numbers more than doubled since last year, seeks to provide a time when kids from various ethnic and social backgrounds can come together to play, while gaining a sense of what it means to be a positive player.

“Our campers learn position-specific skills for every position,” said team offensive coordinator and camp director Victor Santa Cruz. “More importantly, they learn how to compete positively and for an audience of One.”

During Camp of Champs, the children are greatly influenced not only by the football skills they learn, but also by the daily character-building lessons the coaching staff and players emphasize. “Each day we focus on teaching the kids two or three specific things,” said team player and camp worker Jed Thurner ’04. “The first day was honesty, then discipline; today we’re talking about David and Goliath, and how it doesn’t matter how small you are or how old you are, you can still make a difference.”

The football players and coaches love the opportunity to be mentors to the children as well as athletic coaches. “To many of these kids, I can be like a father, or a brother, and it’s cool to know I am making a difference in their lives. I never had any little brothers, only sisters,” said Thurner.

“For the kids, the opportunity to learn and compete in a college atmosphere provides them with the kind of exposure one needs in life to find the courage to dream,” said Santa Cruz.