Strength in Numbers: football camp prepares Front Royal youth for upcoming season

Two years ago, J.R. Ramey came up with the idea of a summer football camp for local youth that would help prepare them for their upcoming seasons.

The first camp in 2015 averaged about 20 participants.

Last year, the numbers grew to around 40.

Now, in the middle of the third Front Royal Midget Football League (FRMFL) strength and conditioning camp, those numbers have increased dramatically.

In the first week of the four-week camp, more than 50 kids showed up. Last week, more than 80 showed up. With two weeks to go, Ramey is hoping those numbers continue to grow.

And the best part of all, the camp is totally free to aspiring youth football players of any age.

“The program is growing,” Ramey said. “I started this camp just to get the kids into football shape before the season started, and now it’s an annual event for both boys and girls.”

Ramey, a 2001 graduate of Warren County High School and vice president of the FRMFL, said his biggest goal, besides preparing the participants for the rigors of the upcoming football season, was to keep the camp totally free.

He has been able to do that with the help of several sponsors.

“Our biggest sponsor is the Front Royal Midget Football League,” Ramey said. “They pay for the fields and we use their equipment.”

A local company, which prefers to remain anonymous, donated the t-shirts that are given to each camper. Another company will donate pizza for an after-camp party.

Other sponsors include Becky Darr and Carter Nutrition.

Ramey said he is very appreciative of all of the sponsors, as well as the volunteers who have helped out at the camp, including new Warren County Wildcats head football coach Brian Bush.

“He has been more than generous,” Ramey said. “When he heard about the event he called me up and asked me if there was anything he could do to help out and he’s been there since week one. He brought some assistant coaches with him, along with some varsity players to help run some drills.”

Some of the drills at the camp for strength include tire-flipping and tug-of-war. A few of the speed and conditioning drills are resistance runs to improve acceleration using bungee cords, the tried-and-true tire-run drill, as well as basic drills as route running and football throwing target practice and several hand and eye coordination drills.

Ramey also has enlisted the help of some local football stars at the camp as well, including former Wildcats all-time rushing leader H.B. Banjoman and former Strasburg High star (and starting tight end for the National Champion James Madison Dukes) Jonathan Kloosterman.

Many of the parents of the campers have been impressed.

“What a great time for the kids,” Danny Swearingen said. “My boy left so pumped for next week.”

“This is an awesome camp for the kids, both big and small,” Karla Collins Laycock said. “High school players working with the kids and the kids looking up to them. It goes full circle, these players could be our next round of coaches.”

You could say the campers are getting their money’s worth, except that it doesn’t cost a cent.

“Awesome camp,” Chris Knight said. “One of the best I’ve been to. We’ll definitely be back.”

There are still two weekends left of the camp with another on July 23 and 30th from 5 -7 p.m. at the old Warren County Middle School field on 15th St.

“The support for this event and these kids have been great,” Ramey said. “The camp itself is unique. We have the music pumping everyone up and they’re all clapping it up. It’s a really upbeat kind of camp - the kids and volunteers cheering each other on and that’s what makes this event fun for everyone.”

Registration for the Front Royal Midget Football League for both boys and girls ages 5 to 15 are now being accepted.

For more information about the league and the camp visit

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