Academic, sports summer camps held

Jessica Imbimbo, Contributing Writer

From May to July, Francis Marion University (FMU) played host to a variety of summer camps and programs for local students to strengthen their skills in both sports and academics.

Almost 1,500 middle and high school students attended the 14 assorted camps FMU offered; eight of them covering the following sports: tennis, baseball, soccer, volleyball and basketball.  The athletic camps were organized and coached by both head and assistant coaches in each sport, with some current student athletes assisting.

Michael Hawkins, assistant athletic director for media relations and marketing, said he believes that what the kids enjoyed about the athletic camps was meeting the FMU coaches and athletes and learning and improving in their respective sports.

“We want them to experience Francis Marion University and all that the school has to offer,” Hawkins said.  “Therefore, in the near future, they may attend an athletic contest; and in the distant future…maybe even be a student athlete for the Patriots.”

The athletic camps range in costs from less than $100 for a one-day camp to a few hundred dollars for overnight camps or camps with multiple sessions.  Team camps were roughly $40 per player and slightly more if attendants stayed overnight on campus.

Six non-FMU camps and groups also participated; the Florence Sheriff Department, YMCA and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes were among those organizations.

There were also six educational programs.  FMU organized programs for teachers in biology and calculus.  The Center for Excellence held a summer institute, and there was SAT and PSAT camps for high school juniors and seniors.

Director of the FMU University Center, Dean Blackburn, said the participants keep coming back year after year because they enjoy themselves.

“I would like for them to remember the fun that they had and that it will give them wonderful memories of their childhood as they grow older,” Blackburn said.

Through community, academic and athletic programs and events, Blackburn said, FMU wants to provide opportunities for local students to learn while also having fun.

“The community will get to know what a wonderful institution Francis Marion University is through programs like these,” Blackburn said.

Hawkins agreed with Blackburn’s sentiments and said he hopes that by holding these camps, FMU will be able to have a long-lasting, positive influence on younger generations.

“These camps present an opportunity for young kids from the Pee Dee area to visit and stay on a college campus.” Hawkins said. “Maybe this will instill in them a want to attend college and get a degree.