In Hubbardston, Massachusetts, there’s a special place in the countryside. A place where a hundred campers wake up every morning at 4:30am. They lace up their sneakers, take a left out of the bunkhouse, and run seven miles. Rain or shine. No matter what.
Over the past thirty-three years the Ron Burton Training Village (RBTV) has served more than 9000 young men and women in their spiritual, physical and educational growth. Twelve months a year, over a six-year period, campers are guided, supported and mentored in some of life’s most essential areas including: education, social skills, morals, values, leadership and fitness. The most intense part of this mentorship occurs during the summer when the campers attend our five-week training camp in Hubbardston, Massachusetts. The camp stresses diversity with a balanced roster of minority and non-minority campers. Though the youngsters come from very diverse backgrounds, the majority of the youth who attend the training village are kids from economically disadvantaged and often troubled and at-risk situations. The environments they are reared in generally lead to adverse behavior and low self-esteem. These youngsters have excessive stress in their homes, neighborhoods and social lives and are looking for direction.
Our campers genuinely desire to get better, however the majority of the surrounding forces they are confronted with on a daily basis keep them teetering on that fence; and with the wrong influences they could easily be edged in a very unfavorable direction. The Ron Burton Training Village curriculum directs the focus of these individuals toward a positive and productive target whose bull’s-eye is; a love for God and ones fellow human beings, physical adeptness and academic excellence. We are able to accomplish this through the medium of sport.
Though the kids come from different backgrounds, most of the campers come on scholarship. No child is turned away due to their financial situation. Each camper is given all of their clothes, meals and accommodations for the five weeks. Everyone is dressed the same so that no one feels any different (better or worse) than anyone else. They are given full Reebok sweat suits, running sneakers, shorts, t-shirts, socks; in fact the only articles kids come to camp with is a sleeping bag, a few personal items, and the clothes on their backs.
The camp is set in a rural setting far from any urban influences. Isolated in their own peaceful world, we surround the kids with nature, trees, streams and lakes for the entire summer. There are seven large gardens that the campers help design. The kids work and spend some quiet reading time in the gardens as well.
There are four core values of the camp: Love, Peace, Patience and Humility. The camp’s philosophy is to inspire the consideration of others before your self and motivate an understanding that faith and morals need to be the foundation of the mentality through which they approach life.
The entire program is based on love and understanding. The staff, counselors and campers alike are only allowed to speak positive and uplifting words. Teasing, putting down or any words that might hurt or otherwise demean someone’s spirit are not allowed. The kids are taught never to swear or use harsh language. Through athletics, we inspire the campers never to drink, smoke or take any kind of drugs. We stress the importance of respecting their colleagues, their elders and a special emphasis is placed on loving and respecting their parents.