The Sound Mind and Sound Body Football Camp, held this past week at Southfield High School, is in the eighth year of its existence. It was first developed as a means to help young student athletes reach their dreams of playing college football and provide them with a better life. It started off with only 100 campers and now has grown to over 600 this year. While a majority of those campers are from the Greater Southeastern Michigan area and the Midwest, there were campers from a total of nine states and Canada that made the trip. It’s far more than your average football camp though; it also focuses on life skills and character development. The explosion in popularity is also a direct reflection of the need for guidance, especially for at-risk youth. The Sound Mind and Sound Body Organization is a part of the Lifting as We Climb non-profit organization that is located in both Detroit and Washington D.C.

Camp Director Curtis Blackwell founded the camp with a goal of helping young people succeed. “Unless young people can see people they aspire to be, they will never have a reference point in terms of what they should be benchmarking and working towards,” he said. College coaches, college players, and NFL players who have overcome adversity speak to these high school athletes. The goal is to inspire these young people and teach them the value  of hard work  and how that can benefit them long-term in their lives. The combination of football tutelage and life skills continues to put this camp in a league by itself.

Because of its status as a non-profit organization, college coaches from across the country may work the camp and be allowed to run it – they’re allowed to make donations of their time and teachings. This is a loophole that very few people know about and even some college coaches thought was illegal. A majority of the time in camp is spent off the field though. Participants are given assignments on assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and what are things that could possibly prevent them from not being successful or making it to college. The camp aims to make sure they encompass everything that a college environment would be like for a student athlete, and how to succeed in that type of environment.

Blackwell figured out that it wasn’t talent that was preventing players from Detriot from going to college, but it was a combination of things. The main reason though was because kids didn’t know what it took.The camp does a whole presentation on recruiting and what you need to have in terms of test scores and grades to be able to make it to college. Past alumni of the Sound Mind and Sound Body Football Camp include former First Round Draft Picks Brandon Graham (Philadelphia Eagles) and Nick Perry (Green Bay Packers). Other NFL draft picks such as Joseph Barksdale (Oakland Raiders) and Chris Greenwood (Detroit Lions) also participated in the camp.

Learn more at the Sound Mind Sound Body official site.


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