Berliner Sports Park may be known for its extensive diamonds with balls and professional softball tournaments, but for four days in June the park is full of more than 100 young athletes who can dribble a ball, score a goal or hold a hockey stick. first time.
The Public Youth Camp is a sports sampling program run by the Columbus Foundation and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission that aims to educate children ages 6 to 12 about inadequate service in sports to which they may not be exposed. in other way.
Last week was held at the Berliner Sports Park, and the second session will take place from Tuesday to June 24 at KIPP Columbus, with registration ending on Friday.
“It’s really just an opportunity to get to know all these different sports … just different kids who may not have access to those sports, whether they’re not in their communities or at school,” said Erica Williams, event manager at the sports commission.
Public youth camp: Introducing children to many sports
The camp introduces children to four new sports a day, per hour. That gives them plenty of time to learn the basics from professional and former professional athletes – such as Frankie Hayduk, who played for Columbus Crew – or volunteers, Williams said.
Connor Sexton, 7, said he was both excited and nervous about playing basketball for the first time last year when he first took part in the camp. The Westerville boy said he was worried he would look like a bad player to his peers.
“I didn’t know where or how to shoot and dribble,” he said.
After learning the basics, Connor gained confidence and found it easier to make friends with other campers.
Four years ago, Eric Archibald, senior director of sports committee events, sat down with other staff members to review the demographics of Columbus residents who have access to his sporting events, programs and fundraisers.
The Athletic Commission is responsible for much of the growing athletic industry in the Franklin County area. Since its inception in 2002, the organization has booked more than 550 local events.
“The main focus of the sports commission is to generate economic impact for our community,” Archibald said. “But what do we do with these families, and really these children, these boys and girls, who don’t have access to certain activities that other families have?”
There are many factors that can limit a child’s or family’s access to play or watch sports, Williams said, including finance, transportation, knowledge and exposure.
The camp was structured with these barriers to entry into the mind. The Sports Commission is working with outside organizations such as Columbus’ Recreation and Parks Department to identify areas of opportunity or communities where large populations do not have the time, money or access to sports in their neighborhoods.
The camp costs $ 250 and covers breakfast, lunch and two snacks a day, along with camp T-shirts and sports equipment that you can take with you. There is a scholarship fund maintained by sponsors and community partners that covers the participation costs of those who are approved.
“Many times it’s just this financial access,” Williams said. “So, we’re really proud that more than 85 percent of our campers here are on a scholarship to come to the camp, so this is a camp, the fees are fully covered.”
In addition to sports, campers have group activities to teach them topics such as self-care, empowerment or team building.
“For me, it’s just a break from all sports and more like a time to relax,” 11-year-old Anika Kramer said of life lessons.
Kramer is a girl scout from Butler Farms, Obetz with a busy schedule full of troop meetings, guitar lessons and other summer camps. The municipal youth camp gives her a chance to try many sports in a short period of time.
“I can see what I want, so I don’t have to work all year to play sports,” she said.
Megan Sexton, Connor’s mother and a contract worker with the sports committee, said she witnessed the impact of life lessons on her son two days after the program. Some of the campers in Connor’s group encouraged him to name another boy.
“The boy started crying and Connor immediately went, put his arm around him and told him, you know, it’s okay,” she said. “One of the life lessons yesterday was about cooperation, but also about cooperation and just being a leader.”
Public youth camp
Where: KIPP Columbus, 2900 Inspire Drive
When: Tuesday and lasts until June 24
Registration: Closes Friday; Scholarship applications are available online at community.columbussports.org/youth-camp