When it comes to childcare during the summer months it can leave parents with a lot of questions. But for 25 years Florida Citrus Sports Foundation has offered a free summer camp, for economically-disadvantaged middle schoolers, in the heart of the city. Our Despina Barton introduces us to one camp counselor who’s finding a way to give back and make an impact at the camp he already graduated from:
Joshua Slater knew exactly where he’d be spending his summer.
“I just got a huge inner child in me and I just love being out here,” Slate said of being at the MVP Summer Camp.
”I just love working with kids it’s really fun. I can see them grow up.”
He’s a natural around the kids. Slater is a first year camp counselor at the summer camp and is a success story of sorts as he was a camper just five years ago.
“If I didn’t come to this camp, I’d probably be at home just bored not knowing what to do and this camp really got me into sports and just loving sports in general,” Slater explained.
Slater graduated from the camp with a ton of awards and moved on to Lake Nona High School where he found success for the Lions on the football field as an offensive lineman.
Now in-between semesters at Valencia he’s back to his old stomping grounds, a place he remembers being so impactful to his childhood.
“For me I started in this camp when I was younger, as their age, and I was like you know what? I want to continue,” Slater added.
So he volunteered at first in high school, and then became a counselor’s aid.
“I like hiring our former campers,” MVP Summer Camp Director Joey Walters said.
“He showed that he can be a leader of this kid and want to tell them and guide them in the right direction.”
Slater took us on a tour of the Frontline Outreach Center, just one of the three facilities; he files kids in and out of during the eight week summer program.
Biggest difference as he returns as an adult, definitely more responsibilities.
“I’m in charge of the kids, taking them to their daily activities, making sure they are staying in control, staying in line and doing what they are supposed to be doing and just having fun.”
All the kids come to Camping World Stadium for lunch and that’s where on this hot summer afternoon, Slater got to honor a camper who has had a good week.
Slater is just one example of how the community continues invest in its youth.
“It pays homage to the program on how much they believe in the program,” Walters said of Slater wanting to come back. “How much they want to be able to give back now, since that they know exactly what the program is all about.”
And that’s exactly what Slater plans to do for as long as he can.