JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Summer camps and youth sports are back underway here in Florida.
At the Bolles School, youth baseball camp is in full swing this week as kids are out on the baseball field and just happy to have some sports back. Down the road at Episcopal, it’s a youth football camp that’s in motion.
After months of no sports due to the coronavirus pandemic, a slow return to sports for children and coaches in the area feels just about perfect. When Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on May 22 that youth sports and camps could begin restarting after more than two months of COVID-19 shutdown, it led to an immediate push for area programs to get things back in gear.
The excitement is easy to spot.
“This is outstanding I’m so happy to be out on the field and see all these kids back on the field,” said Bolles baseball coach Mike Boswell. “Our numbers aren’t high, but we are so happy to be back playing.”
Things are a little different right now as the camp tries to prioritize things like practicing social distancing, but outside of that, it’s simple.
It’s back to baseball.
“I have as many counselors as I do kids this week. The difference is with all the social distancing. That is the only difference. Outside of that we are doing a lot of baseball.”
The campers aren’t the only ones who are happy to be back out on the field. The coaches and counselors alike are enjoying this experience after being off the field for the past few months. Former Bolles baseball star Hunter Barco, who was enjoying a stellar freshman season at the University of Florida, was one of the counselors at the camp on Tuesday.
“It is good working with the kids,” Barco said. “It is fun getting to come back here where I went to high school and getting to work with the kids and make them better.”
At Episcopal, Brunell said that coaches and players were excited about getting back to work, but joked that no one was more excited to see camp begin than parents.
“This is what I know. Yes, they are excited to be out of the house. Their parents are more excited for them to be out of the house,” Brunell said. “They barely even slow down the car. They are just like, ‘get out!’ I'm just kidding. Let's just say, the turnout is far more than I expected.”
All of the campers are getting the chance to learn about football from some of the best athletes on the First Coast. Brunell said it’s nice to see his Eagles players working with the younger kids.
“What I love most about this is a lot of my high school players are the camp counselors,” he said.
Nick Elksnis, who recently committed to play football at the University of Florida, is one of the counselors at the camp. And he says even though he is the one who is teaching football here, he is learning some lessons from them as well.
“I learn a lot about just enjoying the game because once you get older and go through recruiting it becomes a chore and job kind of,” Elksnis said. “But all these kids are out here because they love the game and enjoy, and it is cool watching that because you remember you have to just love the game.”