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Punch 4 Pounds Kids at Camp Champ


Camp Champ director, Steven Matthews (center), practices boxing drills and daily affirmations with campers. Photo by Yasmine Regester/Carolina Peacemaker.

A local summer camp is making sure kids are exercising their bodies and minds while on summer break.

Camp Champ invites youngsters ages 4-12 to participate in a summer camp that utilizes the various techniques and principles of boxing to teach and exercise. The three-month summer camp was created by Steven Matthews, owner of Punch 4 Pounds Kids, a community organization created to provide mental, emotional and physical support to area youth.

Punch 4 Pounds Kids (P4PK) began in 2013 out of the Macadonia Family Resource Center in High Point. Matthews was offering exercise training classes to adults, but soon realized he could make more of a community impact by working with the youth. He started by taking a few kids at a time to the community center, engaging them in physical sports, and soon more kids were asking to join the group.

The program moved to Greensboro in 2014, and after a few location changes, it has found a home at 1403 Yanceyville Street.

“For me, boxing provided discipline and focus. I wanted to pass that on,” said Matthews, who is a former Middleweight professional boxer and also spent three years in the U.S. Army as a Chemical Operations Specialist.

“It has always been a challenge because you’re looking at a sport like boxing, that doesn't draw the same recreation attention as other sports. My goal has been to use boxing as a deterrent, as a way to empower the kids, inspire that discipline and structure. We utilize boxing terminology to show them how they can be champions inside and outside the classroom,” he added.

While there is a physical component to the camp, Matthews said he believes it’s important to grow the whole child, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. That is why the Camp Champ space includes a compliment wall, book corner, vision board, self-esteem corner, and a sight-word wall for younger participants.

Camp teachers Crystal Sanders and Vershanda Wilson lead the campers in daily hands-on activities that include reading, math and science activities, as well as arts and crafts.

“I wanted to give back to my community, and I wanted to make sure students were still learning throughout the summer,” said Sanders. “We try to reach children where they are. Sometimes, by the end of the school year they are tired, but we try to use the summer to make learning fun.”

Sanders and Wilson are both N.C. Pre-K certified teachers with The Childcare Network #56, under the Guilford County Partnership for Children.

“It’s not just teaching them new words, but showing them how to implement those words in their lives — like integrity, initiative and motivating others,” said Wilson. “I think this is a positive program that could turn into something really huge.”

Matthews uses daily quotes to inspire the campers such as, ‘Never leave your battle buddy,’ which he says is teaching them to be accountable for their own actions and know they have a responsibility to their fellow campers.

“They are expected to be leaders. I ask them, ‘Where’s your opponent?’ The kids respond, ‘In front of you.’ It’s the same in the classroom. Your opponent is right in front of you. If you take your focus off of your teacher or your lesson, you may take a hit,” said Matthews.

Although there is a wide age range of campers, Sanders says it’s not hard to find age appropriate activities that all campers can enjoy. Campers routinely enjoy weekly field trips to places like the library and City Hall, where they sat in on a Juvenile Crime Prevention Council meeting, to which Matthews serves on the board.

“The older campers enjoy assisting the younger ones with arts and crafts or reading activities. So it’s a good balance,” said Sanders.

While there is a summer camp fee, Matthews, who is a parent of five, says P4PK works with parents to make sure they are meeting families where they are. He noted that the program also provides a mentorship component, allowing campers to interact with positive community role models. P4PK also works with Guilford County Schools’ Communities in Schools program to provide community support to youth.

“I’m not trying to create the next Floyd Mayweather. I’m trying to create productive citizens,” said Matthews. “We want to make sure kids are being challenged, while still having fun.”

For more information call (336) 340-1108 or visit