Game Day Sports Camp
What: Game Day Sports Camp run by Ron and Reesha Howard
When: Through July 20, 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Where: Concordia Theological Seminary
Price: 2 weeks - $240, 4 weeks - $390, 6 weeks - $500
Campers can join Game Day Sports Camp for the final two weeks, July 9 - July 20, for a discounted price if they mention FortWayne.com.
Campers will receive a T-shirt and two snacks a day as well as participating in six sports, various recreational activities and take part in the Carnival Day and Awards Ceremony.
The regular price for two weeks is $240, but with the discount the price is $200. If parents are interested, they can send the camp an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was only fitting they decided to organize and run Game Day Sports Camp. The camp is at Concordia Theological Seminary, and campers are able to sign up for two weeks, four weeks or the full six weeks. In only its first year of operation -- it started on June 11 and runs to July 20 -- the camp is already a one-of-a-kind to the city.
"It's the only camp where the campers create their own day," Reesha Howard said. "We look at the holistic viewpoint of a child. They just don't need to be entertained, they need a time to use their imagination and a place where they can scream and be loud."
The preparation for the camp took several years, but during that time, the Howards have been able to get several sponsors: Glenbrook Dodge, Yogurt On Your Own, Lazer X, Play It Again Sports and, of course, the Mad Ants.
Game Day Sports Camp allows campers from kindergarten to eighth grade to participate in a variety of sports from baseball to soccer, but it's more than just a sports camp. If a camper doesn't want to play a sport, there are a number of crafts available to keep him or her busy.
The Howards have noticed that campers will participate in both the sports and the recreational activities, even if they came to the camp saying they would only do sports.
"We have a lot of athletes here that said, 'I play baseball, I play soccer, I play football and that's it.' But then we see them making picture frames," Ron Howard said. "They get to be well-rounded."
Mike Schott, who has a daughter attending the camp, said he learned about Game Day Sports Camp on television as well as on Groupon. After doing research on the camp, he signed his daughter up and said it's been worth it.
"When we come to pick her up, it's actually hard to get her to want to leave," Schott said. "We definitely look forward to coming back next year. The faculty is fantastic. I'd recommend this camp to anyone."
But the most important part of the day for the Howards, according to the website www.gdscamp.com, is the character-building sessions.
Reesha Howard said while she and her husband were organizing the camp, they talked to educators about what topics teachers weren't able to discuss with students in the classroom. She said sometimes teachers were held on time constraints or even felt a topic was taboo for a teacher to discuss with a student.
"A teacher might not know how to tell a student the importance of keeping your reputation or how important it is to be compassionate and have self-respect," she said. "Those are things the teachers might not have time to cover because they're spread so thin."
Reesha Howard added the character-building sessions also came from the idea that children will listen better when another person repeats what their parents tell them.
The parents praise the Howards for bringing the character-building sessions to the camp. Kellie Stanley, a season-ticket holder for the Mad Ants, said once she learned Ron Howard runs Game Day Sports Camp, she registered her sons.
"I love not only the physical part of it, but the character-building aspect they've brought to it," Stanley said.
The camp runs Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Each Friday is a theme day, which includes H2O Day, a luau and Halloween in July. On H2O Day, the campers played activities involving water, and a fire truck came to the camp to spray the campers.
Ron Howard said the freedom and experiences kids get at the camp is something they usually don't get at home.
"We wanted to be over the top," Ron Howard said. "We want to give them something they've never experienced before."
Reesha Howard said running the camp has been a positive experience for her and her husband because it allows them to do something as a family. But it also has been a rewarding experience to see other children get to learn and try new things.
"I've been praying that God would open our hearts to allow me to do something with children and keep us together as a family since [Ron] has to travel so often," she said. "I've learned that this is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing."