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Falcons football camp pays a visit
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    Even on a blazing hot day, Statesboro kids got a chance to get a good workout in as they participated in the Gatorade Junior Training Camp sponsored by the Atlanta Falcons Tuesday at the Boys and Girls Club and at Mill Creek Regional Park.
    The camp — which is part of the National Football League’s “Play 60” initiative — serves to educate children on the importance of physical fitness by encouraging them to play outside for at least an hour every day.
    While the program has been in place with the NFL for almost a decade, the Falcons have a long-standing tradition of encouraging youth around the state to be more active.
    “The Gatorade camp is something that we’ve been doing as long as I can remember,” said Chris Millman, community relations and youth programs manager for the Falcons. “Georgia has one of the highest rates for child obesity in the country, so we try to do our part to stress physical fitness.”
    Two camp sessions lasting around an hour and a half each were held Tuesday. The afternoon session was hosted at the Bulloch County Boys and Girls Club while the evening camp took place at Mill Creek.
    Over 100 kids turned out to the camps. At the afternoon session, most were members of the Boys and Girls club, with more recreation department participants attending the evening camp.
    Along with Millman, employees of the club and of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department were on hand to help coach the kids.
    “Today, I was helping out with the obstacle course,” said Josh Norman, athletic fields supervisor for the recreation department. “We were getting the kids to line up in a proper stance and run through a ladder. Then we had them catch a pass, and everyone really liked jumping into the tackling dummies at the end.”
    “The most important thing is to get kids active, but we’re also here to teach the game of football,” said Millman. “This is for kids who may or may not have had any experience playing football before. We teach some fundamentals, but the overall thing is to stress exercise and having fun.”
    Tuesday’s camps were well received by all in attendance. With school out of session and many sports in between seasons, all of the attendees were full of energy and jumped at the chance to run around with friends.
    Of course, some free Falcons gear also helped as all campers received a t-shirt and water bottle with the Falcons logo on them.
    “It was really cool to have the Falcons come here and to get a shirt,” said Xavier Lee, who will start third grade this fall. “The Falcons are my favorite football team, and I really want to play football when the season starts.”
    As the summer draws on the Falcons will continue to host junior camps around the state.
    “This is the first time we’ve been to this part of Georgia,” said Millman. “It’s always exciting to get to new places and the turnout here is great.”
    While the training camp was only in town for a day, kids in the Statesboro area can still look forward to the upcoming season of fall sports.
    SBCPRD hosts a variety of sports for boys and girls and will open up registration for fall sports at the beginning of August.

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.