Pendleton children play with the pros at free football camp[MIGRATE]

By Lance Cpl. Michelle S. Mattei | August 05, 2011

Photos
Justin Lynell, 11, conducts a speed and agility exercise during the Eric Dickerson Youth Football Camp at Camp Pendleton’s 11-Area football field, July 21. Children ages 7-18 were eligible to take part in hands-on instruction from former NFL players while also learning offensive and defensive drills.

Justin Lynell, 11, conducts a speed and agility exercise during the Eric Dickerson Youth Football Camp at Camp Pendleton’s 11-Area football field, July 21. Children ages 7-18 were eligible to take part in hands-on instruction from former NFL players while also learning offensive and defensive drills. (Photo by Photo by Lance Cpl. Michelle S. Mattei)

Although they’re not tall and fierce like NFL superstars, the 150 children who attended the first Eric Dickerson Youth Football Camp learned to play like the pros.

On July 21 and 22, children ages 7-18 were eligible to take part in hands-on instruction from NFL players at Camp Pendleton’s 11-Area Football Field.

The two-day camp was part of the Eric Dickerson Foundation, which provides positive influences through youth sports, education and leadership. They build community partnerships with other non-profit organizations, schools and military services.

“Childhood obesity is at such a high rate right now, so it's important to get kids outside and away from video games and television,” said Eric Dickerson, the program founder and former NFL Los Angeles Rams’ running back. “If you start them out early in life with a good exercise routine and good nutrition habits, they’re bound to carry that mentality for the rest of their lives.”

During the camp, children learned offensive and defensive drills, as well as participating in speed and agility exercises. They were broken up into age groups and participated in eight-minute drills led by former NFL players.

“Our goal with this event was to provide a free, non-contact program for kids of all ages to come and enjoy,” said Geri Murillo, Eric Dickerson Foundation administrator. “We teach them mentoring and leadership skills, as well as provide them with an injury prevention class.”

The foundation plans to conduct this event annually with the base’s children. They also provide free, youth camps throughout California to develop young children into resilient leaders through encouragement and perseverance.

“I just love working with children and teaching them the knowledge I’ve gained throughout my career,” said Dickerson. “I hope by providing this program they will learn the importance of giving back to their communities.”

For more information about the Eric Dickerson Foundation, visit their website at www.ericdickersonfoundation.org.