On August 3-4, 2012, I had an opportunity to be involved with a camp specially designed for young men ages 3-18 right here in the city of Flint. You say you didn’t hear about it? That figures because it was not sponsored by one of our local athletes nor did it fit the bill of the “normal” Flint negative newsworthy material. What it did though was give 61 young men a chance to learn and grow physically and mentally over the course of a couple days.
Kingdom of Heaven Ministries (KHM located on G-3196 W. Pasadena Ave. on Flint’s north side) hosted the camp for the group they dubbed yM.O.V.E. (Young Men of Valor and Excellence), a spin off from their men’s group M.O.V.E. (Men of Valor and Excellence). The idea was initiated by Pastor/Founder Lonnie W. Brown as a tool to reach the underserved demographic of inner city boys and give them life principles and experiences through pairing with the men of M.O.V.E. in a safe, spiritual environment. Church member Julie Leighton picked up the idea and ran. Per the camp administrators, Min. Antoine and Deria Brown, the thought behind KHM’s plan was that “athletes who have gone on to pro careers often reach back and make a deposit [to the youth]. How much more should successful men in corporate careers and ministry do the same?”
The itinerary consisted of workshops on respecting yourself, respect your sister, obeying your parents, and honoring God, all of which we see day-to-day being violated in our city by our young men. However, it did not just stop with mental teaching, the second day included an obstacle course run by former Army Drill Sergeant Alvin Sanders (who is now an elder at KHM) who drilled the boys on self-discipline and physical endurance. In addition, local high school basketball star JD Tisdale and his AAU coach/mentor, yours truly, ran the boys through various hoop drills and stations to give back athletically as well. Lunch was served daily and the boys were given t-shirts and school supplies. Prizes were also awarded in various categories.
Oh yeah, forgive me for forgetting to mention that this was all offered totally free of charge. When asked why, Deria replied, “we wanted the people that needed it most to be able to participate…a cost, however minimal, could deter attendance.”
Antoine added, “The looks on the boys’ faces said it all. It was evident that many were in dire need of positive attention…many parents seemed detached and happy to have somewhere to drop them off. I hope there is a way to increase parental involvement moving forward.”
The feedback from the boys and the adults volunteering was great. Suggestions were made and plans for the next camp have already been started. I observed that despite it being a relatively short time, the boys really soaked up the positive environment. The traditional electronic forms of entertainment that permeate these times can be replaced with some more effective tools for growth. I cannot wait for the next one as the goal is at least 100 boys!