RedZone’s first summer camp mixes valuable learning with fun

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The RedZone’s Summer Game Day Program is a camp that mixes fun and games with emotional learning.

It’s the first time the Youngstown organization has hosted a summer session, and more than 30 kids have been in camp every day.

“First we have breakfast, then we do a feelings circle,” camper C.J. Mitchell said.

Summer campers hit the ground running each morning. The feelings circle helps the campers talk out their issues and set goals for the day.

“It shows them how you’re feeling,” camper Thomas Thompson said. “If you’re feeling frustrated and you don’t want to be bothered, then they will know.”

The RedZone opened a year ago to serve low income and inner city kids.

Counselors jam pack the day with activities that help campers grow their social and emotional skills.

“Simple things like using their manners, opening the door for someone,” counselor Mike Leskosky said.

The curriculum is getting results. Parents say they’re seeing daily improvements in their kids’ behavior.

“I love it because he is coming here, he is playing with his friends, he’s making new friends — he’s becoming a friend to others,” parent Diamond Morales said. “A little more self-confident maybe than when he left. And then I like the fact that then he goes back to school.”

The campers say they’re excited to put their new coping skills to use.

“If I get mad at school, I’ll go in the corner and then cool down,” Faith Mayes said.

When the summer ends, the campers will leave knowing this:

“That it’s very important for them to love themselves,” Leskosky said. “And to know that they have many positive qualities and that other people — their peers and adults — care for them.”

The RedZone is still taking kids for the last four weeks of their summer camp. To sign up, call 330-787-9180.