At Kyrene’s new sports summer camp, students get to sample 15 different sports throughout the summer, exposing them to some they might be unfamiliar with and want to pursue when they get older.
From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through July 21 at Kyrene Centennial Middle School, incoming third-graders through sixth-graders can both learn about and play those sports – and even take trips to sports destinations such as Chase Field.
“As far as a camp that’s offering 15 different sports throughout the summer, I haven’t heard of one,” said Nick Nigh, head camp counselor.
“I have seen baseball camps, basketball camps, and I went to all that as a kid, but nothing where we touch on a bunch of different sports,” he added.
Kyrene’s program includes tennis, basketball, flag football, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, golf, archery, track and field and kickball.
“They get to kind of see what they like and don’t like,” Nigh said.
When a new week begins, counselors introduce the new sport and help teach basic skills and rules. Later in the week, campers get into playing games and have tournaments.
Another mission of the camp is to instill the campers with a commitment to good sportsmanship.
The seven values covered are: sportsmanship, responsibility, motivation, character, teamwork, leadership and attitude.
Each week offers a series of discussions that are focused on one of these values.
The values are then reinforced through tournaments and other play.
“That’s actually been really helpful to kind of curve the upset kids we get when they lose,” Nigh said. “We are doing a bit of competition, but we’re also talking about sportsmanship first.”
Under the supervision of several counselors, including Jared Ostendorp, a recent Desert Vista High School graduate and football player, campers stay entertained all day long with a variety of activities, mostly indoors.
“The time just flies,” Ostendorp said. “They’re so creative…we have our own dugout zone and half the games they play nowadays they make up on their own.”
Ostendorp, who plans to attend the University of Washington in Seattle in the fall, said he enjoys working with the kids.
“The field trips are my favorite part of the entire camp,” Ostendorp said.
Campers attend weekly field trips to sports-related destinations, getting a chance to see how the rules and movements they learned would work on regulation-siezed venues.
Sometimes they even see real play.
So far the campers visited the Fencer’s Club of America, Top Golf, Kyrene Lanes and Chase Field. Upcoming trips include the Nozomi Aquatic Center, AZ Ice and Stratum Lazer Tag.
“I see some kids who have never touched a volleyball in their life, and by the end of the volleyball week they’re out there and it’s the most exciting thing for them,” Ostendorp said, adding:
“Especially now as we move into lacrosse and hockey, some more under-the-radar sports, opposed to like football, basketball and baseball, it’s really cool because these kids might find a passion and go on playing.”
Campers can sign up anytime throughout the summer and can attend the entire seven-week-long camp or just one week for $165 weekly.