Fighting Poverty with Passion
The month of June for A’s & Aces signifies the beginning of our 7 week long summer camp. With over 160 campers at over 3 camps around the city, my weeks in June were never empty. From Monday through Wednesday, I go to each of our camps for the day and help monitor and support our staff. On Mondays, I go to Dillard University. There we have a maximum of 66 campers, but the average attendance tends to be around 55-60 on any given day. At Dillard, we have some of our oldest participating members of A’s & Aces working with Xavier’s head tennis coach, Alan Green. Needless to say, there are some amazing tennis matches happening. We also have a junior camp counselor working with us, Andre, who has been with A’s & Aces for several years. We are starting to see some sustainability on that front. We really do like to see our participants come back and serve with us to help younger kids in the program. Andre helps with the tennis staff on the court, teaching the younger group with the basics: forehand swings, ground strokes, etc.
Overall the camp is doing great. We did, however, have some trouble with planning weekly swimming trips to the local pool at St. Bernard Center. For the first 3 weeks, there has been constant rain on Tuesdays, which is the designated day for our swimming field trips. With the pool being outdoors, we cannot swim if the lifeguards cannot see the bottom of the pool during rain. Also, NORDC has a rule regarding not having more than 40 kids in the pool at one time. So, we had to split our swim trip into 2 days so that everyone can go to the pool. Things started to work out by the end of the month.
On Tuesdays, I work at Joe Brown Memorial Park with our lead staff, Dominique Stone, in the classroom and our lead tennis staff, Anthony Davis. Tuesdays are, in my opinion, the hardest day of the week. Not only do we have to program for our 40+ campers, but we also have to provide tennis programming for over 120 other campers from Excite Allstars, another camp that is being held at Joe Brown Park. Although this is a partnership between the two camps, I find it difficult because A’s & Aces does not benefit from this partnership. We have to basically cut our tennis staff and volunteers in half just to provide for the other camp, while receiving nothing in return.
Our third camp is at Atkinson Stern Tennis Center. This is a more unique camp compared to our two other camps at Dillard and Joe Brown because this camp has many campers that come from middle to upper class families that reside in the Uptown area. They have heard from many of our campers from previous years about our high quality programming. Since our camp is sponsored by NORDC, it is open to the public. So, we operate on a first come first serve basis. We would ideally like to have more campers from families from a lower income bracket because our camps are highly subsidized by the city. We would like to see low income families take advantage of our camps over those that can pay for high quality camps.