Purdue Athletes for Life Success (PALS) began in 2002 as the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP). Senator Lugar and Senator Bayh asked then Purdue President, Dr. Martin Jischke, if Purdue University was interested in establishing this camp. He, in turn, asked the departments on campus to consider adopting this camp in which Health and Kinesiology accepted this opportunity. In the beginning, it was dedicated to engaging underserved local youth ages 10-16 in fitness, health, and athletics. The summer program was and still is free-of-charge to campers (parents /guardians must meet poverty income guidelines set forth by the US Department of Health and Human Sciences).
Over the years the camp has evolved. In 2007, (NYSP) was canceled by the federal government and the local community became responsible for supporting the camp. However, this allowed the program to be able to expand beyond the original guidelines of the grant and be based on our local community’s needs. The camp modified to ages 8-14 and became much more than a summer sports camp. As Drew Brees stated, “This is not a sports camp; this is a life success camp.” PALS staff began emphasizing teaching points known as The Four Pillars: Respect, Responsibility, Courage, and Caring. By incorporating the pillars into all PALS activities, campers learn important life skills that they can apply in their own lives. The PALS Camp has evolved over the years to include academics, career pathways, and daily living skills to enrich the campers’ lives.
The Four Pillars: Respect, Responsibility, Courage, and Caring.
These campers have been exposed to healthy activities, positive role models, summer fun, and personal growth opportunities.
Many community leaders, in conjunction with Purdue University, play a major role in the promotion, celebration and financial support of the PALS program as they all share in the mission of helping youth and families in poverty. We believe our research findings can help others with similar missions to address the critical needs of impoverished youth and families and make differences in their lives. Thousands of youth have benefited from the PALS program in the past 17 years, setting their lives on a healthy, successful course. We’ve seen successful outcomes from campers who went on to graduate from college. These campers have been exposed to healthy activities, positive role models, summer fun, and personal growth opportunities. In short, they’ve been given a dream. Our PALS camp is only one of two of the original 225 NYSP that currently operates in our nation. We feel very fortunate that our community continues to invest in our children.