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Palm Beach Atlantic University will join Miami Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll, the Florida Department of Children and Families, Child and Family Connections, Inc. and a host of community partners this weekend in welcoming foster youth between the ages of 11 and 16 to the first-ever “Camp for Champions” in Palm Beach County.

Student volunteers from PBA’s Workship program will serve as counselors for the camp. Registration for the overnight weekend camp will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at Gold Coast Christian Camp, 7495 Parklane Road, west of Lake Worth.

Carroll is scheduled to join in the kick-off at 9 a.m. for a day of inspiration, to include team-building ropes courses, a rock-climbing tower, swimming, canoeing, a nighttime campfire and more at the scenic campsite. The camp is scheduled to end at the Rapids Water Park in Riviera Beach at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

During a motivational talk with the campers, 25-year-old Carroll will highlight some of the lessons he’s learned to succeed on the gridiron. “Every day, I have to come with the same mentality and the same focus,” Carroll said.  “I can’t say one day, ‘I don’t feel like doing this.’”

As a professional football player, Carroll is fulfilling a dream that started when his high school football coach, Ron Riddle, begged his mother to let him play on the team during his sophomore year.

“Mom wouldn’t let me do it,” Carroll said of his mother, Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. His coach begged his mom, “‘Just give me three weeks with your son. If he doesn’t score a touchdown in the first game, he won’t have to play again’… She came, and I scored three touchdowns that game.”

The Palm Beach County camp is one of more than a dozen planned throughout Florida this year specifically for children in foster care, living with relative caregivers or in group shelters. Dubbed “Camps for Champions,” the summer camps have expanded each year since a single camp in 2009 hosted by NFL Pittsburgh Steeler Myron Rolle.

This is the first such camp in Palm Beach County and will draw ambitious, eager youngsters, including Daniel, a 16-year-old who loves to play football and wants “someone to teach me to become a leader.”

“We want this camp to be an experience the children do not soon forget,” said Dennis Miles, DCF Southeast Regional Managing Director. “The community has stepped forward to help make this weekend special for a group of deserving champions — children who, through no fault of their own, are in the care of the Department and our community-based child welfare partners.”

During the camp, the Department of Children and Families will recognize several “Partners for Promise.” In the true spirit of the “Partners for Promise” initiative launched by DCF Secretary David Wilkins in December 2011, these individuals, corporations and organizations have donated their time, talent and resources toward ensuring a memorable, fun weekend for the campers.

The camp is co-hosted by DCF and Child and Family Connections, Inc., with support from the child welfare community in Palm Beach County, including Vita Nova, Inc. and the Children’s Home Society of Florida, South Coastal Division.


By | June 28, 2012