As summer begins for school-aged children, Neptune Baptist Church has joined the ranks of recreational programs vying for their participation with the newly established North Shore Athletic Club.
Hosted on the 24 acres of church-owned land that makes up Marshside Campus, the ministry works to keep kids busy outside of school with athletic activities that aren’t covered in the church’s football, cheerleading or surf programs. According to Pastor Tom Bary, North Shore Athletic Club serves as a link to bring that recreation full circle.
“It’s the first year we’ve started this club, having already established Upward programs for flag football and cheerleading as well as a surf camp,” Bary said. “But not all kids like those sports. And since our church has a high value on reaching children, it’s a nice connecting point for us to include more kids.”
The ministry is spearheaded by Bobby Grant Jr., who first brought the idea to Bary’s attention with another counselor, Jordan Walker. Having been heavily involved with the church’s Upward programs for the past 10 years, Grant was eager to begin building a new program that would address the needs of both children and their parents once the sports season was over.
“It occurred to me that with the season only being three months, (there were) nine months in which the kids do not have that positive safe environment to play and have fun,” Grant said. “And quite frankly, I wanted to change that.”
In three months, the team was in preparation to begin the first two sessions of the sports camp. Alongside counselors and coaches Walker, Billy Grant and Alex Awad, the small but growing ministry encourages children to engage in athletic play in a friendly environment.
To be held from 9 a.m. to noon June 27-30, the camp will enable kids will play sports such as baseball, soccer, flag football and kickball in addition to other non-traditional sports such as Gatorball. The ministry is set to announce a golf tournament, a softball game and a trivia night.
The activities also extend to the school year, with the club hosting flag football every Friday after school for elementary students as well as a family fishing tournament and lacrosse lessons for beginners.
According to Grant, the main focus of the club is to bring people together through sports. Coming from an athletic background himself, Grant says he understands the bonds that form from positive competition, and hopes to give kids and families the opportunity to build and strengthen friendships through it.
“We’re all very excited about this camp and having a burning passion for helping others,” he said. “And we feel we can do that through athletics.”
For more information about the North Shore Athletic Club, visit the ministry’s Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/northshoreathleticclub or call (904) 250 6557.