By Walter Munday
Metro Parks and Recreation Outreach Manager
Over the summer break, thousands of kids throughout the city will participate hundreds of camps including a wide variety of sports camps aimed at keeping kids more physically active and learning new sports skills. From soccer to baseball, from lacrosse to volleyball and Golf, thousands of kids will enjoy the fun and the instructional benefits.
Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation has joined countless other organizations including JCPS, the Louisville Free Public Library, Metro United Way and others of going a step further by developing an coordinated Out of School Time (OST) schedule that not only includes the summer break, but also winter/holiday and spring break OST activities and programs.
According to BLOCS, a system created locally from a partnership with education, government and community impact organizations,
“The correlation between out-of-school time and youth success is undeniable. Studies show that youth who attend out-of-school time programs are 12% less likely to drop out of school compared to their peers who don’t participate. And quality out-of-school time programs are universally recognized as critical tool to help students graduate on time – contributing positively to key performance indicators such as attendance, engagement in learning, test scores and grades. With an estimated 1,200 students in Louisville alone predicted to drop out of school this year, and 44% of children in Kentucky indicating they would attend an out-of-school time program if one were available, the need and value is obvious.
BLOCS’ goals are to set quality standards or out-of –school time programs, inciting participation by out-of-school time program providers, and motivating out-of-school time program providers strive.
One of the partnerships that Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation established is with Robbie Valentine’s Basketball Camps.
The Robbie Valentine Basketball Summer Camp is a youth summer camp for boys and girls, ages 6-16 that emphasizes individual instruction in all phases of the game. Campers can expect to learn the key fundamentals of being a better basketball player in areas including defense, shooting, passing, ball handling, team work, and leadership.
Valentine brings in current and former players & coaches such as Denny Crum, Rick Pitino, Milt Wagner, Tony Branch, Jack Givens, and others.
Valentine, a former U of L basketball player and a successful product of a single parent household in Hardin County, has been hosting basketball camps for more than 30 years. He began working with Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation in an attempt to reach inner city youth who may not have a father at home.
“The mentors I had growing up changed my life. They taught me I could achieve. I’m inspired to give back to others as others gave back to me”, said Valentine.
The camps promote the importance of education and its connection to athletic success. Valentine goes further by implementing some key rules at all of his camps
“He always starts out (by saying), ‘Tuck in your shirts, tie your shoes, pull up your shorts because the image you present is how people are going to perceive you,” Ben Johnson said. Johnson an Assistant Director overseeing Louisville Metro Parks’ Recreation Division.
Valentine tells campers at the onset that his camps are just as much about developing successful young men and women in the classroom as they are about improving their skills on the court. He gives them the option of leaving the camp if they refuse to comply.
Since 2014, Louisville Metro Park & Recreation has had hundreds of kids from several of the community centers including Baxter, California, Parkhill, Portland, South Louisville and others attend the camps.
“Our ultimate goal is to keep kids involved in a positive, safe and nurturing environment,” said Johnson.