In four years, the number of boys at the Positive Boys, Positive Men summer camp has more than quadrupled, from 25 to about 110.
That's a reflection of the unique opportunities the camp has provided and its success, said founder Neely Lovett.
"The camp gives them an opportunity to participate in sports, but it also gives them an opportunity to talk about issues they may have," he said. "We give the kids the opportunity to talk about what's on their heart. Once they feel comfortable being able to talk to us, it makes them feel good and they want to come back."
The camp, for boys ages 8-15, teaches the fundamentals of sports. It also has "boy talks" on topics such as self-motivation, etiquette, sportsmanship, self-respect, decision making, and peer pressure. Guest speakers are brought in throughout the summer.
Though keeping kids off the streets has always been a focus of the camp, this year Mr. Lovett plans to emphasize it even more.
"In a time of rising peer pressure, violence, poverty, teen pregnancy, drugs, alcohol abuse and negative media, we'll teach our young men how to excel in whatever they do and to rise above the obstacles that come their way," he said.
The camp's assistants and guest speakers serve as role models, and Mr. Lovett believes they play an important part in the camp's success.
"Those guys are really good with kids, and they care about helping them become productive men," he said. "They are a group of guys who are investing their time in these kids because of the love they have for them."
Mr. Lovett began the organization because he wanted to make an impact on the lives of male youths in the area.
"When I was growing up, my coaches made a big impact on my life. I lost my mom to cancer, and it was just amazing how my coaches and my teachers played a big part in my life," he said. "I wanted to pass that on and have an impact on these young men's lives."
In addition to summer camps, the organization sponsors holiday camps and mentors male youths throughout the school year.
This year's camp will start on Tuesday and end on Aug. 1.
Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org
It's not too late for boys ages 8-15 to register for the Positive Boys, Positive Men summer camp. Registration will be held at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the first day of the camp.
The camp is held from Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the T.W. Josey High School gym, 1701 15th St., and costs $50 a week. For more information, call (706) 240-9110.