World photo/Mike Bonnicksen Owen Harle, 12, of Wenatchee works on his hitting during the Future Champs football camp at the Apple Bowl on Monday July 15. The event is a fundraiser for the Wenatchee Football Club.

WENATCHEE — Now in its sixth year, the Wenatchee Panthers annual youth football camp has become a mid-July staple for kids (grades second through eighth) in the valley.

Running this week Monday-Wednesday, Wenatchee coaches and current players — some of whom went through camp themselves — will work with about 50 participants at the Apple Bowl.

The goal, of course, is to promote and build the sport and teach proper techniques — especially with tackling.

“I think it’s important to build the sport, but it also keeps kids involved in athletics throughout the summer,” Wenatchee head coach and camp organizer Scott Deveraux said Tuesday morning. “Teaching safe tackling is a big one, but the camp is also fun. We’ve done it for many years, the kids like it and the players and coaches enjoy giving back a little bit.”

On Monday, the kids worked on skill fundamental drills for their position, Tuesday was tackling techniques and then Wednesday is straight 7-on-7 flag football.

Last year was the first time current players volunteered to help out. Now they pretty much run the entire camp. They might even be having more fun than the kids they are coaching.

“They love it. They make a lot more noise than the little kids do,” Deveraux joked. “If a little guy makes a nice catch, he’ll hear a bunch of high school kids hollering for him.”

With about 30 players out there coaches, “Didn't have to do a lot,” Deveraux said.

“We just walked around and monitored. The guys already know the drills so once they get the kids rolling they are just doing it, which is good and it helps the older guys too. If they can coach a specific drill and teach it the right way, it benefits them (as well).”

The high schoolers begin their camp next week, with voluntary scrimmages starting on Sunday afternoon and running through Wednesday.

“I always look forward to camp, and it’s great to have the facilities and save kids from spending $400 for a college camp,” Deveraux said. “Plus, we get to coach our kids, which is not always the case at some of those camps. It looks like the weather will participate and the smoke isn’t here, knock on wood.”