For the past 20 years, middle-school students from the Orlando area have gathered at the Orlando Citrus Bowl for the Florida Citrus Sports Summer Camp. Florida Citrus Sports (FCSports) is a non-profit known for sporting events like the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Florida Blue Florida Classic at the stadium. FCSports works with the community to develop a curriculum focusing on athletics, academics, attitude and achievements. In two decades, thousands of students have gone through the camp program, learning essential skills that will carry them through life.
LIFT Orlando was birthed to bring healthy development to the neighborhoods just outside of the Citrus Bowl. One of LIFT’s first actions was to listen to the neighborhood. The Polis Institute, in association with LIFT, conducted the largest neighborhood survey in the city to find out what 1,500 residents wanted for their community and how they could be involved. Surveys made it apparent that families wanted more healthy opportunities for the youth, but were totally unaware of the FCSports camp.
The camp has gone through massive changes since then, resulting in an increase from 3% to 97% participation of children from the neighborhood. Special thanks to community leaders, such as those at Florida Hospital, who began to take a special interest in the neighborhoods around the bowl. Looking to help these neighborhoods, organizations such as FCSports, Florida Hospital and others launched LIFT Orlando.
Motivated by the surveys, families around the Citrus Bowl began meeting with the leaders of the FCSports . They discussed new common goals built out of the rich history of the neighborhood and the recreational programs of FCSports. Together they retooled the camp around the needs of the neighborhood. It moved from two sessions to one continuous eight week camp and focused entirely on bringing in kids from the surrounding neighborhoods.
The camp focused on its core curriculum and pointed it towards those right outside their door. Joey Walters, and the rest of the leadership behind the FCSports camp, worked tirelessly to make the camp a success. This summer saw incredible growth for the camp, with a sign-up of 250 students. The camp is still growing, and as it does, it is looking for input from the neighborhood.
Please let us know any thoughts you have concerning the camp by contacting Joey Walters directly at FCSports (firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-423-2476) or calling West Lakes News, a local community organization, at 407-218-6339.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about the camp, see the gallery below for a full walk through of a day in the camp. This is just one part of what FCSports, Florida Hospital, LIFT and other incredible organizations in the city are doing together. Learn how LIFT Orlando is partnering with the communities around West Lakes and organizations in Orlando to make the city beautiful that much more beautiful.