Sunday, June 24, 2012

Inclusive Summer Sports Camps

When you think of Summer Camping you usually think of tents, sleeping bags, campfires and mosquitoes.  But that is not the only kind of camping people do in the summer.  Sports camps are very popular, especially for athletic kids, but don't think those are the only kids who should go.  Sports camps are a good way to introduce your child to new experiences and get them exercising, even if they are not that good at the game.  From basketball and baseball to football, soccer and more you can find a sport camp that your kid might love. 
Some camps are overnight and some are day camps in your local community.  Some are expensive and some not so much.  You need to shop around and see what is out there in your area and what your kid might be interested in.  There is also a new trend that I am really excited about.  Many churches are now offering free sport camps to the local area and include some bible lessons as well as sports training.  They emphasize good sportsmanship and taking care of the whole person, both physically and spiritually.  So why not see if there is a church in your area hosting a sports camp and if not, why not see if your church will host one?

Having a daughter with special needs, I never thought sports camp would be something she would experience, but boy was I wrong!  We live a couple of hours away from Kansas City and so I follow their Down syndrome guild on Facebook to keep up with things going on in our area when I came across a flyer that advertised a FREE football camp for children with Down Syndrome.  It was a one day event from 1-4.  I was excited, but thought, Gess is a girl, maybe they will not let her go.  It turns out I was wrong again!  They said they love it when the girls get out there with them so I signed her up and planned on making the drive.

It turns out this was not a camp specifically for our children, what they did was include our children into the week long day camp that was already going on.  This was so fun!

When we arrived they had her change into her camp shirt and get her water bottle filled up.  Then coach Stoner came and introduced himself and said, "if it's alright with you I am going to take her on out there."  I said "sure, go ahead!"  And off she went!  Each child with Down syndrome had a coach that accompanied them out on the field and helped them as they participated with the teams.  Gess pretty much stayed with the 2nd-3rd grade teams for most of the day, though there were a few times she got some one on one training.

They started off doing their exercise or warm up drills or whatever they call it.  

The entire camp was doing those together.  Gess really caught on and obeyed her coaches well.  They then split into stations by grades.  They focused on kicking, punting, throwing and tackling.  Here is Gess working on punting and kicking.

Throwing she had a hard time with, at least with one hand.  But she could catch it!

Oh and tackling.  Just watch this kid!

As you can see, Gess had the time of her life. She absolutely loved playing football!  She definitely was spent by the end of 2 hours.  That's OK because that's when it was time to cool off.  Smoothie anyone?

Then, while the kids were cooling down in the shade with their delicious Smoothie King drinks, some famous football players came to talk with them!  And after they were done they went around and signed everyone's camp shirt! 

First up was Dustin Colquitt.  He's the punter for the Kansas City Chiefs and has spent his entire pro career as a Chief after being drafted in 2005.  He talked about the importance of listening to parents and coaches and doing well in school.  He took time for questions from the kids too.   

Next up was Will Shields.  He was an offensive guard for the KC Chiefs for 14 years until he retired from the sport. He also spent his entire pro career with the Chiefs.  He spoke to the kids about the importance of eating right and exercising.

The Kansas City Chiefs are actually very active in raising awareness for Down syndrome through their First Downs for Down Syndrome program, which is part of what this camp was all about. We want to thank the Kansas City Chiefs for all their hard work.  We also want to thank those who work hard for FDFDS and  the FCCJC who actually hosted and put on the camp.  It was a day that we will cherish always and we certainly plan on attending again!  And thanks to Coach Stoner who may not know just how much spending those 3 hours with one little girl meant to us all!

Want to read more about Summer Camping?  Then hop aboard the Schoolhouse Review Blog Cruise and see what camping adventures my crew mates have in store.


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