I swiped this newspaper article about Jonathan Williams, whose camp we endorsed some time back. The camp was a success and kudos to Jonathan and Kari from Scot and Kris.
IRONDEQUOIT ? Unlike most of his friends, Quamayne Cooper is more than willing to spend four days of his summer vacation in an Irondequoit classroom learning about improving his coping skills, bettering his communication skills and developing life-long goal planning.
Along with 29 other student-athletes in the junior camp, grades 4-8, Quamayne participated in the first-ever D-YNASTY Life Skills and Football Camp, run by former All-Greater Rochester basketball and football standout Jonathan Williams, June 29-July 2.
Each day, the campers received classroom instruction on one of the three main topics: communication skills, coping skills and goal-setting. Williams and his staff of counselors aimed to help the campers understand the importance of those life skills through question-and-answer sessions and small-group discussions.
During the second half of the day, the campers received football tips and pointers, and took turns learning about being a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, free safety and offensive and defensive linemen.
“There’s probably not a lot of kids my age who are aware of what it takes to set and reach their goals; they’re probably more into playing games or sports,” said Quamayne, 12, a Rochester resident entering seventh grade at Charlotte Middle School in the fall.
Entering the camp, Quamayne was most excited to play football and learn the different positions, but the energetic athlete came away with a broader perspective on what he wants to accomplish in life.
“I thought we were just going to learn football, but it was much more than that. Football’s fun, but those other skills will help me most in life. It’s not all about football,” said Quamayne, who listed becoming a lawyer or a football player as his life goals.
“This camp helped me get in the right direction to get my goals done. I’m not going to forget what I learned here.”
D-YNASTY, which stands for Developing Youth’s Natural Abilities to attain Success Through the Years, was Williams’ brain-child.
As a prevention education specialist for the Rochester School District, Jonathan Williams has seen first-hand the problems that city youths face on a daily basis.
To better equip youths to deal with the difficulties and challenges life can throw their way, Williams devised the sports-based camp, which, he said, used football skills and drills to help the campers better understand and relate to the life-lessons being taught.
“It’s so important for these kids to get this exposure, because this is life, and they only get one chance to succeed in life,” said Williams, 25, a Brighton resident who played college football at the University of New Hampshire.
“If we just sat in the classroom and talked for an hour, it wouldn’t have the same impact as getting them to relate the lessons to being a quarterback or a wide receiver. They’re more likely to remember the lessons.”
Of the three, the students seemed most impressed with learning about goal-setting. Williams and his staff had the campers write down and discuss several short-and-long term goals, and what steps had to be taken to achieve those goals. Coming into the camp, Eric Wilson liked watching football, but didn’t know about the game’s complicated rules. He left with a desire to improve his game, keep his grades up and do whatever it takes to play high school football.
One of the biggest challenges these students will face, according to Williams, is dealing with goal-busters, people who want to derail them from reaching and accomplishing their goals.
“Coping skills are all about having self-discipline and not getting mad at a bad situation, where someone is trying to get under your skin and make you mad,” said Eric, 11, a sixth-grader at School 8 and a Rochester resident.
“You can’t use violence, you have to stay cool and be calm. It’s tough, but you can’t get mad back. If you do, you’ll do the wrong thing. Just walk away, or go find a mentor, coach or a teacher, that’s the right thing to do.”
As the students pass in their final-day tests, which quizzed the campers on what they learned during the camp, one by one they all utter words that resonate well with Williams: They are eager to return to the camp next summer.
“I’ve been telling all my friends that they need to be good in school and work their hardest to reach their dreams,” said Ashley Dowell, 11, of Rochester.
“Now I know how important it is to think of setting our goals, and what it takes to be successful in life. There’s a lot to remember, but you just have to stay focused.”