By: Lauren Delgado | Jackson County Floridan
Published: May 31, 2012 Updated: May 31, 2012 – 5:00 AM

Anthony “Champ” Kelly, a Graceville High School graduate and now the assistant director of pro personnel for the Denver Broncos, knew he wanted to start some sort of camp for kids in his hometown and elsewhere. Growing up, football camps were far away, expensive or both. Nor did local professionals, like doctors or lawyers, speak to the high school students. Having someone to look up to was important then and he said it’s even more important now.

“Trust me, kids these days see enough negative day in and day out,” Kelly said. “They see the drug dealers driving around in the best cars etc, so they feel like they can attain riches this way. If they never see or hear from doctors, lawyers, etc., then they will have a hard time feeling those positions are attainable.”

Kelly said the community helped raise him and he wanted to give back. This year marks the third annual C.H.A.M.P., or Character, Heart, Attitude, Motivation and Pride, Camp in Graceville.

Registration has opened for this June 29 and 30 event at Graceville High School. Campers between the ages of 10 and 17 are invited to register. Anyone who wants to be a coach can register as well. It costs $50 to enroll.

Staff will teach campers football basics, going through each position with them. The group will run through drills like one-on-ones and some group work like pass skeleton and offensive/defensive line combination work, Kelly said. Besides football, guest speakers including local business leaders, former collegiate and NFL athletes will give their message about their life journey, and impart life skills.

“Kids need to see people with ambition and goals,” Kelly said. “They need to realize that there is no shortcut to success.” 

Investing an hour or two into this program and the campers is as good as gold, Kelly said. Children need to have good role models, and supporting programs like C.H.A.M.P. Camp give them one.

“We want them to develop a culture of winning at sport and life,” Kelly said. “Hopefully, they will continue the C.H.A.M.P. Camp long after I’m gone.”