On Thursday, June 16 and Friday, June 17, the New Orleans Saints conducted their first of five Community Patrol Summer Camps at the team's practice facility in Metairie.
The Saints and the United Way have teamed up for the eighth consecutive year to put on these camps for youth in Orleans, Jefferson and five other neighboring parishes. The five separate two-day camps will take place from June 16-30. Over 500 children between the ages of 4-18 will benefit from the safe, fun and education experience.
The camps aim to teach participants skills that will improve their behavior and attitudes in preparation for the new school year. Local coaching staff members and members of the Saints Youth Programs Department teach each participant various football skills and techniques, including punting and passing.
During these rotations, participants also have the opportunity to learn "life skills" through lessons taught by representatives of the Children's Bureau and the youth programs and community affairs departments. This summer's camps will focus once again on conflict resolution, adaptation and coping skills, and crisis management.
Various members of the Saints front office also meet with the campers. On Thursday following the first day of camp, Saints Owner Tom Benson and Owner/Executive Vice President Rita Benson LeBlanc spoke to the campers from St. Tammany Parish, welcoming them to their facility, thanking them for their participation and imploring them to take advantage of opportunities in both education and athletics. Director of Player Development and former special teams ace Fred McAfee reiterated this message, while also showing some pointers on the field.
Additionally, this year's camps featured a mobile unit from Ochsner medical center that helps educate the youth on healthy lifestyles, fighting childhood obesity and the benefits of fitness and physical activity.
The Community Patrol Camps are provided free-of-charge through the United Way and Saints partnership.