Some are players, some are fans, others just needed something to do over the summer. All are among the more than 90 elementary school-aged kids out on the fields of St. Charles High School for a football camp led by members of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.

Helmed by 16 school resource officers (SRO), the camp was held June 22 to 24 for students in third, fourth and fifth grades, with some sixth graders sprinkled in. “We want to give back to our community that we serve,” said Officer Patrick Mann, an 11- year veteran of the sheriff’s office who has been a SRO for nine years.

Currently serving at St. Charles, Mann has helped with the camp since its start five years ago. “I like working with kids, it’s like being in a neighborhood,” Mann said. “But the school is my neighborhood.” Christopher Baldwin, an incoming fifth-grader at T.C. Martin Elementary School, attended camp with his twin brother, Kenneth. It’s their first time at football camp.

“It helps you work on your speed, on your technique,” Baldwin said. “You can work on your athleticism a little.” Waiting their turn to get timed — best out of three — for the 40-meter dash, Elijah Beckwith, a fourth grader at William B. Wade Elementary School and Sion Bell, a fifth grader at Eva Turner Elementary School, held similar views to Baldwin’s. 

“You learn a lot,” Beckwith said about the camp. “Cuz I love it,” Bell chimed in, adding that his family members played football, fostering in him a love of the game. The first two days of camp is spent running drills and learning skills, said Janelle Love, a CCSO spokeswoman.

The final day will include tournament games and when not playing football, campers can take a turn in a bounce house or at the games trailer that will be there to celebrate the end of camp. SROs will hold Badges for Baseball camp June 29 to July 1, with the month of July devoted to its invitation-only Youth Achievement camp.

“The summer youth camps organized by our school resource officers are invaluable to the community. They allow the officers to continue to build relationships with the students throughout the summer, and they also give the kids something positive and productive to participate in,” Sheriff Troy Berry said.

“Sports offer important life lessons about discipline, trying your best, and trusting your teammates.” The sponsors of the football camp include the Cal Ripken Senior Foundation, Charles County Board of Education, Waldorf Jaycees, Crown Trophy, UTZ, Little Caesars and Chick-fil- A.
Kathy Almassey and Eileen Shlagel, registered nurses with the University of Maryland, Charles Regional Medical Center volunteered as well, stationed near the misting tent. Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education.

Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.