Later this month, the New York Giants will open their training camp at the Timex Performance Center in East Rutherford as they prepare to kick off the 2013 campaign.
But next week, the organization is running a camp in Princeton as it holds its New York Giants Youth Football Camp at the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart from July 8-12.
In the view of Tom Finks, the camp’s executive director, the program has helped grow the game in the region.
“This is the seventh year of the camps; we run anywhere from 18 to 25 camps in the tri-state area,” said Finks, noting that the program draws 1,200-1,500 children overall each summer and features such former Giant stars as Bill Ard, Stephen Baker, Rodney Hampton, Eric Dorsey, Curtis McGriff, Charles Way, and former Princeton University standout Keith Elias.
“All the camps are non-contact. The motivation is to expose the game to kids who are interested in trying the game and further training the ambitious players. We have access to great coaches and the New York Giants heroes.”
The camp includes three program options: a Comprehensive Skills Camp for newcomers ages 6-14; an Accelerated Skills Camp for league experienced players ages 9-14; and Private Instruction for students requiring position-specific football training from a specific coach. There are three New York Giants heroes present at each site. The camp costs $459 and registration is available at www.NYGiants
In Finks’ view, Princeton has been proven to be an excellent venue for the program.
“We have been there all seven years,” said Finks, noting that legendary Tiger running back Elias has been a fixture at the Princeton site as one of the Giant alums on hand.
“It is a great location. There is a strong New York Giants fan base and the kids are athletic. There are lots of hockey, lacrosse, and soccer players in the area. We have been drawing 60-100 kids there each year.”
The camps offer something for all levels of experience and interest. “We draw an interesting mix of kids; we have the ambitious player to the entry level player,” explained Finks.
“We also have kids who love football but use the camp as cross training for lacrosse, hockey, or basketball. For the ambitious player, we can do more reps and progress with each drill. For others, we start from scratch, explaining this is a football; here are the laces. The great thing is that we have football coaches who are really good at teaching. The kids need strong training images.”
Awards and prizes are given to campers to help motivate and inspire them.
“At the end of the day, it has to be fun and the kids have to be rewarded and build self esteem,” said Finks, noting that two players per camp are singled out with Leadership Awards at each camp with a series of other awards passed out to recognize campers who hustle, display the spirit of the game, and make big plays. “The Giants heroes have loved the game because it is fun.”
Finks, for his part, sees the program as helping players with much more than just the game.
“We are trying to develop athletic skills but the values we learn from sports are what we carry with us,” asserted Finks.
“Parents may be excited to see their son throw a spiral after being at the camp but they are ecstatic when their son wants to go right upstairs and do his homework or is taking the trash out without being asked. The kids learn to do things the Giants Way on and off the field.”