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Bryce Young hosts first youth camp in the Carolinas on Saturday

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CHARLOTTE—More than 200 campers were on hand Saturday morning to participate in Bryce Young free youth football camp. Held on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University, the event was hosted by ProCamps, in partnership with the Young 9 Foundation.

"I'm grateful to do a lot of cool things," Young told the campers, aging from six to 13 years old, "but nothing comes close to this."

Close to 15 Panthers players, as well as offensive coordinator Brad Idzik, were on hand to assist with coaching. Panthers owner Nicole Tepper was also in attendance, providing support for Young and the campers.

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A host of Panthers players joined Bryce Young and his first camp in the Carolinas, including L-R (standing): Jackson Mitchell, Taylor Moton, Jordan Matthews, Jack Plummer, Austin Corbett, Kenny Dyson, Bryce Young, Johnny Hekker, Tae Davis, J.D. DiRenzo, Jonathon Brooks, Chau Smith-Wade, Adam Thielen and kneeling, Alex Cook.

"I'm super grateful for them to come and support," Young said, in thanks to his teammates. "But it also speaks to their commitment to the community as well. A lot of them were super, just as excited to be able to work with kids and be able to give back. Ss all being Panthers and members of the team, just being able to play with the kids and give back as much as we can, it was exciting for all of us."

Young was even able to hop in drills with some of his teammates kids, tossing a pass to the son of Adam Thielen, joking with him afterwards that he looked "just like our dad" running routes.

"You see it a little bit. He's a natural. He has, the hands are definitely natural," Young joked. "I was talking to (Adam). He was like, he's getting faster too. He was, he was like neck and neck on the fastest man race too. So, yeah, it's exciting to see."

The Young 9 Foundation, founded by Young and his parents, strives to "reach youth and raise up awareness with mental health," Young explained. It's a mindset that has shaped how Young interacts with the community, particularly the youth. It's why he spent extra time at the end of the camp taking a picture and a moment to speak to every single camper on site.

"I think it's just being able to be in the community, being able to be around kids and watch them play and have fun with them. It's something that's so rare and, just the feeling of being able to give back," Young said of why it was so important to spend extra time with the over 200 in attendance, selected from various youth organizations around the Charlotte community.

"I was super grateful for Mrs. Tepper, for my teammates coming out and helping too. So definitely just being able to feel that sense of community, it's something that's that I definitely don't take for granted."

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Saturday was the second camp for the Young 9 Foundation and the first in the Charlotte area, with Young's other camp being in his hometown of Pasadena, California. Campers in Charlotte were sent home with goodie bags, stocked with swag courtesy of sponsors, such as $50 Lowes gift cards, a special edition Bryce Young Snickers bar, an autographed picture, and more.

Perhaps the most important part of the day though for Young wasn't the games or pictures or football drills. It was when his parents, Craig and Julie, took a few minutes to explain to the campers why focusing on their mental health was just as important as focusing on their football.

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"Being around athletes my entire life, that's one thing I think, mental health obviously is important to everyone no matter what background, occupation, but especially around athletes a lot of times, there's been kind of a cloud around mental health," Young said.

"It's still something that has to be prioritized, still something that's important to talk about, to be aware of and to have a plan for you. Growing up and going through things and obstacles in life, especially athletes who, at times, the culture can push you to do the opposite and to push that stuff that stuff away. So for me and the foundation, I think that's why it was so important."

Young and crew return to practice on Monday, continuing phase 3 of OTAs. But for a few hours on Saturday, their time on the field wasn't about the current Panthers, but the future of football.

View photos of Bryce Young and his 9 Young Foundation at his first free youth football camp in Charlotte featuring 300 kids.