Our 2-week Los Angeles BOSS™ summer camp was held at the Billy Blanks Youth Activity Center on the campus of Crenshaw Christian Center in South Central Los Angeles. We presented an amazing 2-week STEM based academic, leadership and personal development experience for 50 student athletes, most in middle-school and a group which has been with us from the start and headed to high school in the fall.
We started each day with “Jump Start”, an hour of agility, quickness and speed training exercises led by Wayne Slappy of S.H.O.T.T.S Basketball Skills Academy. Our mornings also included a STEM curriculum and our annual “Math Madness” competition, a spirited math problem solving competition pairing student-athletes on teams in a single elimination tournament akin to the NCAA’s March Madness basketball championship series. The team of Dylan Fitzpatrick and Daijah Washington, representing the Ohio State University, won the 2-week long tournament.
Morning STEM sessions focused on helping our student athletes learn and use programming language(s) and related tools, as well as collaboration tools, computing devices and network environments. The 5 main strands of our curriculum included a focus on computational thinking, collaboration, computing practice, computers and communication devices, as well as community, global and ethical impacts. During assembly, students had the opportunity to practice real-life problem solving skills by deliberating with their peers on what focus should be given to the day. The final goal was to have students experience the paradigms of team-oriented design that are prevalent in the computing field today: rapid prototyping and collaborative development.
An amazing lineup of subject matter experts including Dr. Clarence M. Lee , Chris Bryant, noted Hollywood attorney Darrell Miller, Olympic medalists and world record holders Willie Gault and Mike Powell and Richard Downer shared their insight and wisdom on a host of subjects including: character building/personal pathway, civic responsibility/service, decision science, defeating the label, developing a winning attitude, effective leadership, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, fitness and nutrition, power choices, power and dangers of social media, purpose focused living, sport science and winning against the odds.
Field trips included return trips to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles courtesy of AEG Chief Administrative Officer Kevin McDowell, a return trip to Applied Minds, a Willy Wonka chocolate factory for geek lovers, and an evening with Los Angeles Dodgers’ taking in their game against the Philadelphia Phillies. We will continue the BOSS “process” with our Los Angeles BOSS™ students with school year activities that will include mentoring, real world experiences and opportunities for advocacy among the students and their non-athlete peers.
2017 marked our 4 th year of delivering programming to student-athletes designed to increase the academic performance and life success for youngsters from under-resourced communities and schools who participate in organized sports.
2017 also marked the move of BOSS operations from one room at Challengers Boys & Girls Club to the College of Business on the Long Beach State campus. The college campus setting, the smart classrooms and computer labs, participation by college administration, staff and students, helped us to present an amazing 2-week experience for 75 middle school student-athletes. With a curriculum that includes non- sport specific training, academic enrichment, non-cognitive skills, leadership and personal development and a life skills component, we challenged the boys to move from good to great in all that they do whether it be in sports, in the classroom or at home.
We started each day during our 2-week camp with an hour of non-sport specific training focused on agility, quickness and speed that we call “Jump Start”. Once the boys have worked up a good sweat each day, it was off to the computer lab for 2 hours of computer lab work where the boys learned coding fundamentals, received hands-on instruction on how to read and write basic code, and learned how to build their own games using TouchDevelop.
We also spent an hour or so each day on our “Math Madness” competition, a single elimination tournament of math skills based on the March Madness format. Pairs of boys, representing their favorite college teams, engaged in a spirited, single elimination competition based on solving increasingly more difficult math problems. The team of Kenan Wondercheck and Andrew Pierce, representing Arizona State, are our 2017 Math Madness champions.
The boys enjoyed a hearty lunch each day, courtesy of Buffalo Wild Wings and Chick-fil- A.
Afternoons each day were filled with subject matter expert presentations on topics that included brand & reputation, decision science, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, nutrition, the power and dangers of social media, social responsibility, transforming beliefs and using constructive criticism. A host of business and sports industry professionals (representative list at this link) joined us in engaging the boys in spirited conversations that tested their critical thinking and involved them in the learning process. Afternoons also featured Interactive discussions focused on career exploration, cultural identify, true colors assessments, and team building and leadership exercises.
Mixed in were field trips to Applied Minds, a Willy Wonka chocolate factory for geek lovers; a behind the scenes tour of Dodger Stadium and game courtesy of the Dodgers and Spectrum Sports Net LA; and a visit to Port of Long Beach headquarters and a harbor tour where the boys learned about Port operations, the complexities of maritime goods movement, and how the Port is improving the environment and helping the community thrive.
We begin our multi-year, year-round process with the camp and we presented an amazing 2-week experience that is the beginning of a relationship that will position all our BOSS students to excel academically and ultimately join the ranks of the successful.