Tawanda and Robert, age 15
In 1986 Tawanda Jones was just 15 years old when she tried out for the drill team at the Camden Youth Activity Center in Camden, NJ. Although she made the team, she wasn’t overly interested in participating because the rest of the members were so much younger. The Director of the Center recognized the special gift Tawanda had with children, and asked her to lead the group. It was an easy ‘yes’ for Tawanda, and she immediately found her calling.
Unfortunately, soon after she took charge of the group, the Center lost its funding and had to close its doors, ending all the programs including the Drill Team. But the girls in the Drill Team weren’t about to let that stop them. A few days later 100 of them showed up on Tawanda’s doorstep and asked her to keep the team going. She was still only 15 and had absolutely no funding, but she knew she had to find a way.
Even at her young age Tawanda saw the need for structure and discipline in Camden, especially for young people. She also saw the talent and sophistication in the kids, and wanted to share it with the world. So she formed the Camden Sophisticated Sisters Drill Team (CSS), and her grandfather, the late Walter (Dynamite) Green Jr., purchased 80 uniforms and 3 drums to give the team its start. Through CSS, Tawanda set out to change Camden by empowering its youngest citizens.
Walter ‘Dynamite’ and Nancy Green
4,000 Success Stories Later
CSS, DBz and TAPS
Now 30 years later, Tawanda and her husband Robert have mentored over 4000 Camden youth and expanded CSS to include its brother organizations, the Distinguished Brothers (DBz) as well as The Almighty Percussion Sound drum line (TAPS). Today each member of the Jones Family is passionately involved in various aspects of CSS.
There are currently over 320 CSS members ranging in age from tots to adults, including boys.
Over the years much about CSS has changed: the uniform, the practice location, the type of music. But the core of CSS has and always will remain the same: love, passion, discipline, values, self-respect, and a tireless belief in the future of Camden and its exceptional youth.
Practice at the Watertower