Mathis said about 120 boys were attending the camp, which was created in a partnership by Georgia Highlands College and 100 Black Men of Rome-Northwest Georgia. He said the camp provides a collegiate atmosphere so camp members will become more likely to pursue a higher education instead of dropping out.
Transportation to Georgia Highlands College is provided for free, he said, and the boys eat breakfast there each morning. They attend hour-long classes that could range anywhere from biology and physics to public speaking. Between academic classes, the boys take classes in athletics that include swimming, tennis, soccer and even canoeing and kayaking.
“College faculty and staff provide those activities at no expense, and at the end of the camp this translates into a mentoring process throughout the years,” Mathis said, adding that members of the Coosa River Basin Initiative would be teaching the boys to kayak and canoe during the next few days.
Mathis said after the camp, mentors from the camp and around the community form relationships with the boys that they keep up throughout the school year.
“We call it the Foundation Camp because this is where we build the foundation for success,” he said. “We encourage them to stay in school and do their best so they can succeed. They all can, but they have a lot more obstacles to overcome than a lot of us do.”
The camp is funded entirely through donations, and Mathis said he and the other administrators invite anyone who would like to contribute, either financially, or by means of sharing their expertise in subjects.