When Russell Wilson was in high school, he attended a football camp led by star quarterback Peyton Manning. Years later, Wilson faced Manning in Super Bowl XLVIII.
That camp experience stuck with Wilson, which is just part of why he launched the Russell Wilson Passing Academy early in his NFL career.
"It's an exciting time to be able to coach kids and teach them the game of football, but also ultimately try to influence them in a positive manner," Wilson said. "It's pretty exciting. We've been able to go all over the country over the past five years. We've met over 4,000 kids every year, and this year will be exciting.
"I was that kid once. I remember Peyton coaching me when I was in 10th grade, I believe it was. To see him in the locker room when I was doing (pre-draft) NFL visits, and Peyton said, 'I think I know you from somewhere,' and I said, 'I went to your camp,' and he started laughing. Those things are real, and I want to be able to make an impact and influence our community."
This year, thanks in part to the birth of Wilson's daughter earlier this offseason, Wilson is only holding two camps, one in Seattle and one in Anchorage, Alaska.
"I couldn't go as many places with the new baby this year, but we have Seattle, we have Alaska this year—I've never been to Alaska before," he said.
This year, Safeway, one of the camp's sponsors, is sending 20 winners (four from each age group) to both of Wilson's camps for free. Parents of kids age 8 to 17 can sign up for the contest or find more details here. For more information on the camp or to sign up, go to thepassacdemy.com.
Whether a future NFL quarterback—or maybe even a future Super Bowl opponent—will learn from Wilson at one of these camps remains to be seen, but the ultimate goal for Wilson is just to be a positive influence on his campers.
"One of the things we always tell our coaches is, if we have 1,000 kids at camp, and we can change one kid's life, then the mission is accomplished," he said. "Focus on one individual, one kid and try to have an impact. That's been a special thing for us."
Russell Wilson hosts his first international passing academy in Vancouver, British Columbia.