Video by Melanie Chaffey
Hosted by the Department of Health and Exercise Sciences at Colorado State University, the 52nd annual Youth Sport Camps has completed another summer of providing active programming for kids. While each summer looks a bit different, the eager kids, supportive counselors, and overall objectives of the camp remain the same.
“The main goal is to get kids to fall in love with movement and taking good care of themselves,” said Camp Assistant Director Anna Bechtel.
Getting kids outside and active also works to provide a sense of normalcy and socialization after the last two years of implementing measures to keep kids healthy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This summer provided kids with a fantastic outlet for finding which sports and activities they love and helped forge friendships and valuable learning experiences that they can take with them for the rest of their lives.
Activities for everyone
The Youth Sport Camps are a twelve-week day-camp program of sports and activities for children between the ages of 5 and 13. The 2022 camp season ran from May 31– Aug. 12 with daily schedules from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Just like every summer, Youth Sport Camps revolved around teaching kids about the importance of health and how to maintain that lifestyle through various, fun activities.
This goal was accomplished by offering kids the chance to participate in several sports and activities including baseball, basketball, golf, inline hockey, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, and music and movement activities. Campers also enjoyed field trips and swim lessons.
Youth Sport Camps also gave kids the chance to participate in an extreme adventure camp, for ages 10 and up only, which included an overnight trip to the CSU Mountain Campus, whitewater rafting, outdoor rock climbing, and paddle boarding.
The Sport Science camp taught kids about various aspects of sports in science, such as how a curve ball works or why they feel good after exercising.
With a plethora of opportunities, the kids at Youth Sport Camps were not only able to find what activities they love, but also were able to find themselves and mature along the way.
A lasting impact
Being active and trying new things in a group setting allowed campers to learn together — including making mistakes.
“Youth Sport Camps allow everyone to be comfortable and have fun with movement and not feel pressure that you must be perfect when you show up,” said camp counselor Bayley Wade.
This sentiment is key to providing a successful camp for the kids, where they are allowed to experience and learn at their own pace.
Camp counselor Maximilian Essl said, “It’s really good to see kids excited about something new and see them making friends. I’ve seen a lot of new friendships rise in the last two weeks.”
This summer, the camp has ramped back up to its regular pre-pandemic capacity. Many of the campers have been more isolated than previous generations due to COVID-19, so Youth Sport Camps provided an outstanding forum for revitalizing social skills.
“At this point where the world is socially, kids don’t get a chance to just hang out with other kids especially outdoors,” camp counselor Natalie Zacher said.
This outlet allowed for kids to just be kids, finding what they love to do and having fun along the way. This was not only impactful for the campers, but for the counselors as well.
“It impacts all of us. Physically, because we’re always moving, but also mentally because we get to learn from these kids, and they get to learn from us,” Bechtel said. “Working with kids just gives you so much more patience and appreciation for life.”
The 2022 Youth Sport Camps allowed for kids to find themselves this summer, discovering more about who they are at a young age, creating lasting friendships, deriving an innate love for a sport or activity, but most of all, letting them experience life with their peers, one sport at a time.
The Department of Health and Exercise Science is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.