Eight Club members attend the 2018 Cal Ripken Baseball Camp in Aberdeen, Maryland

Thanks to a grant from the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County has provided the Badges for Baseball program, a multifaceted mentoring experience that teaches important life lessons to youth who reside in underserved communities through a variety of educational curriculum and baseball/softball-themed activities, to hundreds of Club members in recent years. The program also encourages our organization to help strengthen community ties between youth and law enforcement professionals by inviting representatives from the Sarasota Police Department and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to participate in the curriculum’s activities.

Through this program, our agency was able to send eight Boys & Girls Club members from the Newtown community to Aberdeen, Maryland, to participate in the 2018 Ripken Experience Camp from June 11 to 15. Sarasota Police Officer Devin Epps also traveled to Aberdeen to support our Club members in this experience as a chaperone and one of the program’s dedicated law enforcement mentors.

At the Camp, our Club members spent a week honing their baseball skills with expert coaches at the state-of-the-art Ripken Academy ballpark while learning fundamental life lessons with law enforcement professionals that they can use both on and off the field such as teamwork, personal responsibility and communication.

Campers also had the opportunity to participate in activities like rock climbing and guest speaker presentations from the US Marshals, Montgomery County’s motorcycle unit, Anne Arundel County’s Helicopter unit and Montgomery County’s K9 unit. Campers also learn about the importance of staying on the right path from former Maryland basketball great Ernie Graham, as well as, the importance of character from the Travis Manion Foundation.

“I’ll never forget this week!” said Lavondre, 12, from the Newtown Estates Park Boys & Girls Club. “We met so many other campers from around the country and made great memories.”

Thank you to the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and the Badges for Baseball program for giving our Club members this unforgettable experience!