While fans across the nation wait for the NFL lockout to end, forty-five young campers in Aiken, SC benefited from the lockout this week as former Tiger Jamie Harper spent the week at the Athletes to Champions Sports Character camp.
For years Carl and Cathy Parker have taken time from their summer to run camps for underprivileged kids. This summer Athletes to Champions teamed up with Clemson University to provide a Sports Character camp for kids in South Carolina. The Parker family and counselors from Clemson’s Youth Learning Institute and Athletes to Champions spent three nights and four days with the campers at Camp Long in Aiken, SC.
“We wanted to have something to reach out to the youth in this area,” said Cathy Parker.
The Parkers had hoped to have Kyle join them during the event, but his schedule made that difficult so they reached out to another former Tiger and friend of the family Jamie Harper.
“We got hold of Jamie because we thought he might be available with the lockout. We thought he would be a great person to speak with the campers,” said Cathy Parker.
The fourth round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans didn’t waste any time committing to help out with the camp. Instead of simply taking a day to go spend and the camp with the campers, Jamie arrived Sunday and stayed at the camp until the conclusion on Wednesday.
“Cathy and their family put it all together. They calls and asked if I could be a special guest. Without hesitation I told them no problem. They have been like family to me. I spent many days at their house growing up. They have taken care of me. I had no problem helping them out with the camp,” said Jamie Harper.
Over the weekend Jamie made the trip to Aiken.
“I got their Sunday night with my girlfriend. They told me I would be the special guest, but the kids were the special guests. All of these kids were great here. I was just trying to give back to the community, the kids and to Clemson. Clemson owned the camp so it made a lot of sense,” said Harper.
Jamie felt right at home with the campers.
“They were just like me. They were young and ambitious. They think everything will come easy. I told them it doesn’t come easy. I told them how important it is to show respect and honor. I told them they need to start with the basics like treating people with respect,” said Harper.
What did Jamie and the campers do during the week?
“We did a lot of things on the water. A lot of the kids can’t swim so I would take them out in a kayak. I played some football and baseball with them. We had to teach some of them how to play baseball because they hadn’t played it before,” said Harper.
The lockout hasn’t been a concern for Jamie.
“In my eyes it is just a blessing. I take everything as a positive. If you don’t you get behind. I have accomplished my dream to get drafted. Now I just wait until I get out there and can participate. It is just like I am still in college. I go out and work hard every day. The only difference is when I start playing I will get paid,” said Harper.
When Jamie hits the field in the NFL he will have some new fans in the Palmetto state.
“The kids loved Jamie. Some of them were South Carolina fans and some were Clemson, but everyone loved Jamie,” said Cathy Parker.