For the past four weeks, the 1200 plus children enrolled in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Summer Sports Programme have been engaged in more than the traditional summer camp sports of volleyball, basketball and baseball.

This year the boys and girls are also dabbling in golf, soccer, judo techniques, cycling, and dance including cheerleading, hip hop, liturgical and Junkanoo.

With over 300 instructors, the children ranging in ages from two to18, are registered in sports programmes hosted at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Center and satellite camps in Kendal G.L. Isaacs Gymnasium, the National Tennis Centre, National Swim Complex,
Henry Crawford Centre, Blue Hills Sporting Complex and Albury Sayle Primary School.

The other camps hosted by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in its 28th annual summer program are: softball, table tennis, little pony/baseball, soccer, track and field, volleyball, golf, lawn tennis, boxing, swimming, kiddy corner, sailing and basketball.

According to Director of Sports in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Martin Lundy, the Summer Sports Programme aims to impart “meaningful skills in the fundamentals of the given sporting disciplines.”

Lundy also said parts of the summer programme curriculum are devoted to “promoting self-discipline, social functionalism and community awareness.”

Although the summer programme is only a few days away from closing, Programme Coordinator Oria Wood-Knowles said the camps are continuing to grow. “Last week we saw our greatest increase which is usual to have in our third week. Most of the camps are increasing by ten persons per day. On our first day we started off with about 702 kids. We are now up to 1,202 and we’re still having kids come in on a daily basis.”

Wood-Knowles said she is satisfied with the progress of the camps.

“The instructors have done a really good job in keeping them (the campers) interested,” she noted. “For the most part, the amount of calmness and peace around the camps speak volumes as to how much they are enjoying what they are doing. We’ve had fewer incidents of fights and violent acts taking place in the camp this year. We’ve had a really peaceful camp.

“This year we have introduced judo for the first time and golf is officially a part of the camp this year. These two sports have afforded so many opportunities that the children would not normally have without having to pay a cost.”

In the past, basketball has been the more favored camp. It is still among the bigger camps, but lately dance and kiddy corner have just gone crazy.

“I’m really pleased with how the camp is going this year,” said Wood-Knowles.

This week the campers will have the opportunity to display the skills they have acquired in tournaments and competition matches. “All camps will do demonstrations and presentations in dance and sports,” said Wood-Knowles. “They will go through their skills and drills and perform before the camp. At this time we will choose our most outstanding and most improved camper and they are given awards. Parents are invited to come in and view the competitions.

“They will be dancing, singing, stepping, hip-hopping. Our focus will be on the Independence theme – ‘Reaching for Goals, Striving for Excellence’. There will also be cultural displays,” said Wood-Knowles.

The campers include children who have represented the country abroad in sporting activities, children with no experience in the various sports and some who are trying to better their skills. According to Wood-Knowles some of the local sporting federations have given the campers the opportunity to experience the sports at its best, being taught by some of its best personnel. She noted that tennis, golf, judo, cycling, soccer and boxing have come on board very well.

Some of the instructors at the sports camp are now college students who were once campers.

“There are a lot of persons that grew up in this camp and are now instructors,” said Wood-Knowles. “That does my heart good because they come back and they help. What is so rewarding is that when they finally go out into the job market they normally use this camp as a reference point. That’s when we become so valuable to them.”