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C.A.M.P. Osprey:

A partnership between K-12 schools throughout the region and aspiring UNF student leaders

CAMP Osprey Teaching the art of the handshake


Professor Matt Ohlson is passionate about teaching leadership skills—both to college students and kids.  Our local NPR station, WJCT is honoring Dr. Ohlson as one of five of its 2017 American Graduate Champions (see video below). Since 2015 over 200 of UNF students have participated in the Camp, learning how to be a great mentor to middle and high school students in our region.  CAMP might bring to mind campfires and water sports, but this CAMP stands for the Collegiate Achievement Mentoring Program.  UNF students learn leadership skills and then have the chance to apply them to children in 9 schools in the region. This Program has received awards and recognition from the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida and SunTrust Bank as well as the PBS “American Graduate Program.”  



CAMP Osprey Tennis Lesson

CAMP Osprey is truly a mutually beneficial partnership where collegiate students from the University of North Florida serve as mentors to elementary and middle school students. As you will see from the video, both the mentors and the mentees enjoy one another while they learn to be leaders.  It is a rare opportunity for these kids to have a college student pay attention to them, to make a commitment to help them become leaders. A school Principal the CAMP partners with put it this way, “Having support and guidance from someone that is outside of the teacher, parent, principal (role) who you think genuinely cares about you – that’s vital to the success of our students.” The video gives you a sense of the soft skills the mentees learn—including a proper handshake, public speaking, and working well with others.




Camp Training


To overcome some of the real challenges—Jacksonville’s vast geography as well as financial barriers faced by our high-poverty, urban, and rural partners—CAMP Osprey also uses of video conferencing to conduct weekly virtual leadership mentoring sessions. The success of the program depends upon Dr. Olson’s leadership, the commitment of his UNF students, the core leadership curriculum and an intentional adaptation of the mentoring sessions to the new platform, so that all the students are engaged.  Technology offers all kinds of wonderful enhancements. Students use their cell phones to let their mentee experience the life of a college student: a college classroom lecture, a science lab, sports, and art events. Over the course of the term, college becomes an appealing possibility to kids who had not dreamed it was for them. In either a traditional setting or a virtual one, mentors and mentees work together to solve problems; they have the opportunity to practice effective time management and focus the kids on fostering college- and career-readiness skills.


Camp Osprey is based on the previous initiative at the University of Florida (CAMP Gator), where mentors conducted virtual leadership mentoring sessions with more than 500 students in three states. Participants in both programs experienced increased academic achievement, increased attendance, decreased school suspensions and an increased awareness of diverse communities and cultures.  The CAMP has the ability to respond to sudden crises in the community: the Action News story shows UNF students working with Putnam County students who missed school because of Hurricane Irma.     


For more information on C.A.M.P. Osprey, please visit: Camp Osprey Webpage