Jack and his brother, Sam, ready to play

Looking for a great way for your children to learn a new skill? Send them to one of these amazing camps.

NFL Character Camp

As experienced by: Jack Stacy, age 9
By Jack Stacy and his mom, Lori Stacy

The coolest thing about this camp: was having real NFL players as coaches. They treated us like we were a real football team. Reggie Barnes was like the head coach for our team. Two of my coaches even played against each other in college.
A player catches a pass
Courtesy of AE Sports Videos & Photography

What I learned (and won’t soon forget!): I learned quarterback techniques like the three-step drop. You could pick different positions to learn about, like quarterback, running back, receiver, or lineman. I picked quarterback because I like to play that position. It was awesome to learn the same plays NFL players use.

During breaks: the coaches would talk about “one word.” They would take a word a day, like respect and discipline, and teach us about it. After lunch, we had speakers who would talk to us about their lives and tell us how we could be better people and better athletes. They told us never to quit, that we could get somewhere in life and in football if we learned these important lessons. They told us that being a good football player also meant being a good person.

Adult perspective: We sent Jack and his brother, Sam, who is 7, to this camp because it is different in two key ways. First, it teaches children not only football skills, but skills for life, including respect, discipline, integrity, and honor. Second, and what really makes this camp a fantasy for young football lovers, it’s taught by former NFL players. Founded by former Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers player Reggie Barnes, NFL (“Needed for Life”) Character Camp features instructors who have 12 Super Bowl rings and 60 years experience among them and hail from such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, and Miami Dolphins. It’s hard to beat having professional athletes give your kids lessons in character!

Barnes says he started the camp because he wanted to bring players and kids together to learn about being great on the field and off the field. “Football is football,” he says. “But character is lifelong.” He keeps 25 percent of the camp slots open for underprivileged children, who can attend the camp free of charge.

Details: NFL Character Camp is open to kids from second through 12th grade at four different locations throughout Texas. The week-long camps take place in the summer. From $200 per week. nflcharactercamp.com