Photo provided by Blake Melancon -- Gathering at a recent planning meeting for the Donaldsonville Mega Sports Camp are, front row from left, Freddie Allen, Blake Melancon, Ronald Harbin, Cornell Joseph, Roland Julien and Ronald Myles; and second row, Darryl Smith, James Thomas, Tyson Dennis, Christopher Smith and Mark Peters. Also organizing the event are Mayor Leroy Sullivan and Welma Jackson.

Roland Julien woke up one morning determined to provide a summer camp experience to give hope to the children of Donaldsonville.

While he had the desire to help, the details were a bit fuzzy.

“God woke me up one morning … telling me I needed to do this camp,” said Julien, a 41-year-old Smoke Bend native who now lives in Gonzales and serves as an associate minister at St. Phillip Baptist Church in Modeste.

His first thought was to use his basketball coaching experience to put together a basketball camp.

A few days later, he met with a group of pastors and relayed his ideas to the Rev. Laughtaught Delaney Jr.

“I told him, ‘God told me to start a camp, but I don’t have the infrastructure,’ ” Julien said.

Delaney, the pastor at St. Paul Baptist Church in Gonzales, then turned around and introduced Julien to the Rev. Blake Melancon, pastor of The Rock Church in Gonzales.

Melancon, whose church has organized a Christian-based sports camp for the past four years, said he didn’t hesitate to offer help for Julien’s camp idea.

That meeting was May 31, and Julien and Melancon have been planning a Donaldsonville Mega Sports Camp ever since.

“Things just went boom,” Julien said. “It’s like we knew each other all our lives.”

The two men met with city and parish officials to secure locations for the camp and solicited several area businesses for financial support.

Melancon and Julien have teamed up with pastors from several Donaldsonville-area churches to organize the camp, set for July 28 through Aug. 1 at the Lemann Memorial Center and the Frank Sotile Pavilion in Donaldsonville.

The free camp, to be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each night, will feature flag football, basketball, soccer, cheerleading and praise dance, Melancon said.

“We want to inspire our children in the community to have hope,” Julien said. “We want to let them know there’s hope.”

Julien has high hopes the camp will be a catalyst for change in the Donaldsonville area.

He said many children “believe they don’t have opportunities or that anyone cares.”

“We have to show them a different way … show them that there are things out there for them,” Julien said.

Melancon said his church, along with community volunteer Mark Peters, will provide the equipment and facilitate the camp.

“But they are going to take the ball and run with it,” Melancon said. “The folks in Donaldsonville have embraced this camp.”

Registration is available at J’s Men’s Fashion, the Blum Center and several Donaldsonville-area churches, including St. Phillip Baptist Church, Mount Zion Baptist, St. Mary’s Baptist, New Vision Ministries, Fountain of Faith, Shekinah Glory Christian Fellowship, Mount Triumph Baptist, Mount Salem Baptist and Mount Pilgrim. Registration forms also are available at St. Paul Baptist in Assumption Parish and The Rock Church and St. Paul Baptist in Gonzales.

For information, call Tony Alise at (225) 763-1860.