Tackling Football and Leadership Literacy at Camp Exposure

Tackling Football and Leadership Literacy at Camp Exposure
high school athletes attend at Camp Exposure Football Camp Invitational | Image by Camp Exposure

Camp Exposure Football Camp Invitational (“Camp Exposure“) attracted hundreds of high school student-athletes to Highlander Stadium at Highland Park High School in early July for the third annual installment of its three-day, all-inclusive, overnight football camp and youth program.

The first two days of Camp Exposure were by invitation only, whereas day three was free to the public and concluded with a 7-on-7 football tournament.

The camp’s on-the-field training was held at Highland Park High School and had coaching from collegiate and NFL professionals such as Josh Hicks, Chris Harris Jr, Brandon Carr, DeVante Harris, Steven Terrell, Dezmon Briscoe, Aca’Cedric Ware, Cyrus Gray, and Bradley McDougald.

Off-the-field personal and professional development sessions took place at the Embassy Suites of Dallas Park Central.

Camp organizers and co-founders Tyler Patmon, Jeremiah Hatch, and Lubbock Smith established Camp Exposure in 2018 to provide young athletes an opportunity to gain the knowledge they will need to succeed in life — both on and off the field.

The faith-based strategies and principles learned by the student-athletes adhere to the camp’s seven-pillar philosophy, which addresses the following subjects: identity, mental and spiritual health, nutrition, relationship skills, professional development, and financial literacy.

In an exclusive interview with The Dallas Express, Tyler Patmon and Jeremiah Hatch discussed the importance of surrounding student-athletes with like-minded professionals with whom they can feel comfortable networking.

“We’re trying to surround the guys with professionals, professionals they can network with without truly messing up their vibe,” Patmon told The Dallas Express. “You want them to be comfortable with who’s in the building, but at the same time, we want to challenge them and push them to grow outside of their comfort zone.”

At the end of each year’s program, co-founder Jeremiah Hatch wants the student-athletes to feel empowered about the professional, off-the-field knowledge they can take home with them.

“There is a portion of your identity that will always be linked to football, but you can use that portion — the attributes that show you’re hard-working and dedicated — to bring over to the professional world,” Hatch told The Dallas Express. “Whether it has to do with the game of football or has nothing to do with football, those attributes are needed and can give you an advantage and edge in the real world.”

When asked about the idea behind the program, Patmon recalled a high school coach who had a professional-development day called “Manhood Tuesdays.” On those days, students learned how to shake a hand properly, put on a tie, build a resume, and develop a professional brand or mission statement online. Camp Exposure expands on this philosophy by introducing its seven-pillar holistic development program.

Co-founder Lubbock Smith, speaking with Texas Metro News, discussed the value local partnerships can bring to community-focused events like Camp Exposure.

“It was essential for us to partner with Vista Bank and Highland Park High School because we share a similar dream to love our neighbors and serve our communities,” said Smith. “However, I also believe that there is something greater — albeit deeper — that has connected us to a dream bigger than our own: a vision of restoring and healing Dallas altogether so that all communities can thrive. That starts here with these 100 young men and their families.”

Vista Bank sponsored the 2022 Camp Exposure event on July 8–10. Vista Bank President & CEO John D. Steinmetz believes programs that focus on financial literacy, like Camp Exposure, enable the local community to feel more confident about making financial decisions.

“I truly respect the three young men leading this effort, and with Vista’s focus on financial literacy in South Dallas, it was a natural fit to support Camp Exposure,” said Steinmetz.

The philanthropy-focused coach of multiple YMCA youth sports teams believes elevating talented young men like Camp Exposure participants and “teaching them ‘how to fish’ through financial literacy, character, leadership, and community service will actually change lives.”

Highland Park Athletic Director Johnny Ringo said when he and Coach Allen heard about the work Camp Exposure was doing to elevate and strengthen the young men holistically, they were all in.

“The opportunity to unite the South Dallas and Highland Park communities around our common love for the sport is something truly special,” Ringo told the Texas Metro News.

When it comes to the future of Camp Exposure, the co-founding trio is dreaming big.

“My dream for the future is to open up a school with the camp being the foundation for that school to stand on,” Hatch told The Dallas Express.

Patmon added that he wanted to expand Camp Exposure’s awareness and reach so that more student-athletes get the opportunity to bring something great to their communities, where they otherwise might not have the chance.

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