Camp of Champs brings character education to Albany summer youth program

·2 min read

Jul. 24—ALBANY — Rodney Bullard could be doing a lot of fun things this summer. But for the former Dougherty High Trojans football player, being with a group of youngsters was where he wanted to be.

The current Valdosta State University player was on the basketball court at the Westover High School gym in Albany last week with about 60 rambunctious kids who are participants in the Albany Recreation & Park Department's summer camp program.

"It's a great experience to work with kids during my free time and make an impact on kids' lives," Bullard said.

A group of current and former athletes is working this summer with the L&G Camp of Champs. During the previous week, they provided five days of activities along with life lessons.

"We teach them character education," Bullard said.

Each summer, the camp goes on the road across the country with its program of youth development.

L&G, operated by Greg Manning, a former athletic director at several colleges, including Georgia State University, and his wife Lea Henry, the Dougherty County Schools district athletic director, also operate the L&G Educational Foundation, which was hosting the Albany camp.

"We do about 40 or 50 of these every summer," Manning said. "We try to hire people who kids are familiar with, (that) kids can look up to. The staff goes all over the place with us. We do a couple of sites over the summer through our foundation."

The staff members lead activities with small groups, followed by a brief session to discuss serious life issues, character building, the importance of education and other lessons. They work with students from around age 9 to high school juniors.

"We do character education every day," Manning said. "That's why we do this. The activities are so we can keep their interest."

This is the second year the program has come to Dougherty County, Velvet Poole, the superintendent of community events with Albany Recreation & Parks, said. The city is hosting a summerlong camp at three locations, and participants from those three sites took part in the L&G program.

The educational aspect of the L&G experience was one component that is important, she said.

"That's the reason I like that, the lessons," Poole said. "The other thing I like is that these kids are used to seeing them (former area athletes). They're coming back to the area.

"I'm just glad L&G decided to participate with the Albany Recreation and Parks Department in providing an opportunity for our community. We're looking for many, many more years to come."