Newly retired after 16 years in the NFL, Smith Sr. is a ProCamp veteran. “I love the military aspect of these camps,” he says. “There’s always something as a player and as a U.S. citizen to give back to the military in any way, shape or form. This gives me a unique opportunity to do that.”
Despite being the teacher to kids about the game of football, Smith Sr. gleans plenty of lessons from them each year.
“We can watch how military kids operate,” he says. “One year they might be in Alaska, and the next in Kansas. It requires adjustment. Their mom or dad might be absent for a long period of time. Kids can still keep their focus and want to be able to learn. They go through ordeals I don’t even think most adults would be able to handle, and they do a great job of it.”
Villanueva encourages kids to find the most positive outlook in every situation. “If you’re in a good assignment, squeeze every ounce of joy you can out of it,” he says. “If you’re in a bad one, it won’t last forever. You can always focus on learning new things and focusing on building more of a relationship with your parents and siblings. You’ll have a lot of assets and values and be extremely valuable when you grow up. Military kids have a lot of opportunities; it can truly turn you into a man before it’s time. By the time you leave your parent’s house you can set up for success based on your values.”
“Doing these ProCamps is reminiscent of where I started right on base,” Roberts reflects. “I started playing sports the way these kids are – right on base where their parents work. It reminds me of where I started.”
Stewart minces no words about ProCamps: “They’re great. They’re the best.”Subscribe to Military Spouse's Weekly Newsletter