The Green Bay Packers Youth Football Camps, the official youth camp of the Green Bay Packers, will soon commence starting in late June with locations all over the state of Wisconsin, providing a positive message from those who have played the game at its highest level.
Designed for the 6-14 age group, the camp provides an alternative to tackle football camps, according to Tom Finks, the program's director and son of Jim Finks, the former Chicago Bears general manager and NFL Hall of Famer.,
“We want football to be accessible to kids,” said program director Tom Finks. “In order to do this, the camps need to be conveniently located, safe and high quality. We have tremendous coaching resources, including many alumni Packers players. The non-contact format allows us to safely introduce the game to newcomers, while at the same time we can challenge and develop experienced players.”
Each of the 10 camps scheduled throughout the summer has "Camp Hero" who is a former Packer come and offer their instruction and support but more importantly, offer a message that encourages the kids to be successful both on and off the field.
Participating in this year's camps as heroes are linebackers Bryce Paup, John Anderson, Ron Cox and Paul Rudzinski, running backs Ahman Green, Dexter McNabb and Larry Krause, wide receiver Bill Schroeder and safety Johnnie Gray.
"What I do is go out there and give talks to the kids," said Rudzinski, a former Packers linebacker from from 1978-82 and an assistant coach after that. "And then basically what I try to drill on there is just the things from my experience and what they need to do if they want to be successful, either in sports or more importantly in school, and being a good son or daughter to their parents and a good person, so that's my major focus."
While the intention is to give the kids instruction, support and a lesson they can take back with them to their lives outside football, it's clear that the former players get something out of the camps as well.
"What I enjoy the most is seeing the smiles on their faces and getting them psyched up," said Rudzinski. "I just share my experiences and let them know that they can do whatever they want to do if they work hard enough."
The Packers have a goal of making the camps as accessible as possible and have made several modifications to their camps in addition to the non-contact environment and high-quality instruction from the coaches and Packers heroes.
One is the locations. The 10 different camps across the state begin on June 20 in both Madison and Mequon. They then continue through late July at different intervals in Franklin, Waukesha, Oshkosh, Glendale, Green Bay, Kenosha, Elm Grove and a second camp in Madison, making it geographically convenient for many families.
Another are the week-long (five day), full-day camps that assist households with two working parents.
And another is the cost, which is made competitive through the offers of customer and group discounts as well as financial aid scholarships.
"I walk around and engage the kids, and it really is a lot of fun," said Rudzinski. "I really enjoy it, because the kids are, at that age some of them are really, really young, and it's just a lot of fun being around them."
More information is available at the official website of the Green Bay Packers Youth Camps, PackersCamps.com.
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