How the Big Ten spends its summer vacation: BTN LiveBIG
When it comes to the Big Ten, summer is less about kicking back on the beach and more about giving back.
Athletes, coaches and alums from schools like Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Rutgers often spend the summer teaching youth campers how to replicate the skills they’ve learned over the years.
In other cases, Big Ten schools let their work off the field make the difference as they teach kids to hone their conflict resolution skills or go to work in communities wracked by crime and income inequality.
For these men and women, living BIG expands on the concept of teamwork and creates an impact that lasts long after the season is over.
Watch and read some of our favorite stories about those who look beyond themselves during the summer months.
The camp, formerly known as the National Youth Sports Program when it was established in 1968, was once federally funded with the funds administered by the NCAA. But when Congress cut the NYSP from the budget in 2007, founding member Ohio State took it upon itself to keep the program running — at a cost of more than $250,000 annually. In 2012, OSU raised awareness for the camp with the LiFE Sports Spring Football Game.
The kids who go to Camp Odayin in Stillwater, Minn., all have one thing in common: They all suffer from some kind of heart disease or defect. In fact, that’s why the camp was founded — to give kids with heart issues the carefree summer experience they may not get otherwise.
What was once a small program based around the three co-founders making appearances to read to second-grade classes has exploded into one of the flagship community outreach programs at Ohio State. Former OSU linebacker Ryan Miller is the third former Buckeyes star involved. “It has gone way beyond my wildest imagination,” Miller said.
— 2nd & 7 Foundation (@secondandseven) December 13, 2013
The goal of the Light Foundation is to give at-risk kids the opportunity to learn about the outdoors and receive mentoring. The foundation’s Chenoweth Trails facility, which hosts an outdoor leadership camp called Camp Vohokase every summer, sits on more than 400 acres of land in Greenville, Ohio. A hand-selected group of young men from around the country are taught the values of hard work, responsibility and accountability. Light and his team keep in contact with these kids throughout the year to provide mentoring and support.
Students and professors from Rutgers University have teamed up with consortium of community and school organizations to save the children of a beleaguered Newark, N.J., neighborhood from violent crime, severe economic inequality and other major life challenges. Rutgers’ School of Nursing is leading the program, called Brick City Synergy.
However, professors and students from several different disciplines — including psychology, social work and education — will apply their diverse skills and knowledge to help 75 at-risk youth from the troubled Georgia King Village housing complex in Newark achieve a better life.
Senior Gopher cornerback and team captain Briean Boddy-Calhoun laughed when describing a precocious six-year-old Youth Camp participant who asked him which receiver he had the most difficulty covering. “I was impressed!” he said. “That was a question I’d [expect to] get from the media, not a young kid. He caught me off-guard; I told him I’d have to think back and review tape.”