By: Malcolm Shields
In an effort to keep young kids healthy and to learn about the game of life as well as the game of football, the Miami Dolphins brought its youth football academy to Boca Raton. From July 23 to July 27, the Miami Dolphins held its 2012 Youth Summer Camp on the campus of Boca Raton Community High School. The camps were divided in two age groups ranging from ages six to nine year old and from ages 10 to 14 year old.
On day three of the camp on July 25, the participants went through drills, practiced the plays that they were taught by their instructors and played three sets of games simultaneously. “We are teaching kids how to be ‘Dol-fit’ and to make positive choices, “ said Director of Youth and Community Programs with the Miami Dolphins Twan Russell. Being ‘Dol-fit’ combines the importance of education, physical fitness and making positive choices.
This is the first time in the camp’s history that it has been brought on the road and into Palm Beach County. “Palm Beach County is a very important market for us. We have quite a few of our season-ticket holders here,” Russell said. “It is important for us to give back because they give so much to us [the Dolphin Organization] on game day.”
Russell played for the organization in the early 2000s. Another former Miami Dolphin that provided his knowledge of football and mentored the youth at the camp was former tight end Troy Drayton. He played for the organization from the mid to late 1990s.
“It is always great to give back to the community. The Miami Dolphins have a strong influence in the community and in South Florida,” said Drayton. “We have had a really good attendance.”
Along with the core principles that are taught in ‘Dol-fit,’ Drayton also pressed the importance to the campers of the value of perseverance.
“The main thing that we want to teach is physical fitness and positive choices. We also teach the kids to never quit,” Drayton said. “When you start to develop a pattern early in life, you tend to follow them.”
During the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak, the camp breaks for lunch. In order to keep the campers entertained while they tried to avoid the midday heat, the campers got involved in an impromptu singing and rap contest.
The most rewarding aspect to the instructors at the camp was the progression of the kids throughout the week. “The greatest thing to watch is to see the kids gain confidence from Monday to Friday,” Drayton said. The camp was also open to young girls to participate. “It’s [great] to see how much confidence she has gained,” Drayton said of one of the young girls at the camp. “She has opened up more.”
According to Drayton, the young lady has improved throughout the week at the camp. He says he cannot wait until the championship round on July 27 to see how she will perform.
The camp was not limited to locals from Palm Beach County. The Miami Dolphins were able to accommodate up to 10 campers from Mexico to attend the camp. “They are a ball of energy,” Drayton said of the campers from Mexico. “They understand football and they enjoy football. They are out here having fun.” According to Russell, the camp has drawn campers from around the nation and internationally from Italy, China and Australia.
The Miami Dolphins Youth Summer Camp has been active in the South Florida community since 1995. With the success of the camp in Boca Raton and also in Jupiter a week prior, an early estimate is that the camp next year could draw up to 200 participants. “We want to put our fingerprint on the community so that we make sure that the young men and women understand that education is important physical fitness is important and you got to make the right choice to be successful,” Russell said.