Three of the 50 campers who experienced the Seminole spirit this summer at the seventh annual Florida State University College of Social Work Arts & Athletics Camp were from Franklin County, giving the camp an opportunity to reach a population it had never served before.

Twin sisters Betsy and Emily Mosley, 14, of Apalachicola, and Jayden Nichols, 12, of Apalachicola, commuted each day to the Florida State University campus, their parents taking turns carpooling.

The Arts & Athletics Camp began June 4 and used arts and athletics as vehicles to introduce local youth, ages 11-14, to the university environment and encourage them to pursue higher education.

“This program aims to enhance leadership development, grow confidence in academic achievement, socialization, and other life skills for those living within our community with limited social and economic opportunity,” said Camp Director Alexandra Givens.

This summer the Arts & Athletics Camp was able to expand to two weeklong sessions serving approximately 50 children. According to first year counselor Aaron Carswell, who is pursuing a bachelor of social work, “camp allows the kids to bond with peers and try new things in a safe and fun environment.”

Throughout the week, campers were able to participate in a wide range of activities from creating positive affirmation stones, climbing a seven-foot wall with the Veterans Student Union, and much more.

During a Poetry Therapy session, conducted by Dean Emeritus Nick Mazza, the campers were able to write a poem on what camp meant to them. The final line of this poem read “this camp is home.”

Both Emily Mosley and Jayden Nichols felt as though they found a home while at camp. “Camp taught me a lot of things,” said Emily. “I thank the counselors for that. I genuinely had fun!”

Nichols felt as though he too “learned a lot about FSU. Camp was very fun and interesting!”

Kelly Mosley, mom of the twins, said she especially like the attitude of her daughers upon their return.

"The biggest thing for me is when they came back, they were all excited about going to college. Before that they were 'Yeah, yeah, college," she said. "They were actually inspired and motivated by their experience. That was a neat thing for me to experience as a parent." 

Bachelor of Social Work student and first year counselor Sabrina Sprott summed up the Arts & Athletics Camp in a simple yet powerful sentence - "Camp gives kids a chance to explore options for their future that they may not otherwise have.”

The camp was free of charge for those who attended, allowing kids who come from low-income areas of the Big Bend community a chance to attend summer camp. The idea behind Mazza’s initial project, seven years ago, was to make an impact. All of those involved in camp can see the impact being made. “This camp is home.”