Over 550 excited kids attended the Jim Kelly Football Camp at the Buffalo Bills complex in Orchard Park that concluded July 1. The young football campers came in droves this year and the number of attendees is a record high for the five-day camp.
"I hosted my first football camp which was a dream come true back in 1988 and it has been going strong ever since," said Kelly. "Throughout the years of holding my camp we've had thousands of kids participate and seeing the smiles and enjoyment of every kid makes it worthwhile."
Part of the reason for the high numbers is that the camp date is right after schools conclude and before the July 4th holiday weekend. The camp also has some of the area's top coaches and athletes assisting with the skill training, coaching and chalk-talk sessions. The greatest reason for the success of the camp however, is the effort that Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly himself puts into his camp.
Kelly is personally visible and very involved each day of the camp. He preaches good manners and off-the-field skills as much as on-the-field football skills. He hosted an opening ceremony welcoming parents and kids to the camp. He invited and encouraged parents to stay for the camp and watch their sons or daughters play. He took team photos with every team and signed an autograph for every single camper. He is on the field teaching, playing, having fun with the kids, parents and coaches. Basically, he practices what he preaches and it is not unnoticed.
"Jim Kelly is out there throwing passes to the young campers, and the way he and his coaches interact with the kids makes this camp so special," said John Flannery, Orchard Park resident and father of one of the campers. "Though my son never got to see Jim play, he can always say that he got to meet a Hall of Famer and play at his camp. It's a great experience and they do a super job with all of these kids – and not just with football."
Each day of the five-day camp the campers get to play six touch football games, receive specific positional skill training, attend a football and life skills "chalk-talk" session and are provided a healthy lunch. In addition to Kelly, former Bills safety Mark Kelso, and motivational speaker Mike Masters, one of the chalk-talk speakers this year was former Jim Kelly Camp attendee and current Bills defensive back Jon Corto.
Kelly autographed one item of the camper's choice for every kid. Kelly says that urging kids to say thank you and to make sure they say it loudly teaches politeness and respect. If the camper forgot to say thank you for the autograph, the child was reminded with some wind sprints. Kelly promises that new kids at his camp will only make the mistake once. For every autograph and "Thank you," Kelly looked each kid in the eye and said, "You're welcome."
Kelly also told the kids that whoever they hang out with will probably determine the type of person they may be. He encouraged kids to hang out with good people and not bad people – to make good choices with their friends.
Kelly will be taking his positive messaging and expert coaching staff to Rochester, NY and will be hosting a one-day clinic at St. John Fisher College on Monday, July 26th to kickoff the Buffalo Bills Verizon Wireless Training Camp.
"I know there is an unbelievable Buffalo Bills fan base in Rochester and the neighboring communities so I thought it would be a great idea to introduce the format of my football camp to St. John Fisher College," said Kelly. "I have had the privilege of visiting there several times during the Bills Training Camps and I am truly amazed at how beautiful their facilities are."
"I am already looking forward to hosting this camp in Rochester."
For information about the Jim Kelly Football Camp or the One Day Football Clinic, visit www.jimkellyfootballcamp.com or call 716-204-0900.