Benjamin Scott Cone couldn’t think of a better place to be than at the Mega Sports Camp at South Whidbey High School this past week.
He and his three best friends were among more than 130 kids to play dodgeball, flag football, soccer and several other sports in the three-day camp from June 26-29. It was organized by The Island Church of Whidbey. Dodgeball was one of Cone’s favorites, but not the only one he enjoyed.
“We get to play all sorts of fun sports,” Cone, 8, said.
The camp was for ages 5-11 and provided the basics of the aforementioned sports, as well as tennis, basketball, taekwondo and ultimate frisbee. Rotating between multiple sports in a day at one-hour intervals, the kids could dig their toes into one sport and then move on to the next in quick succession. The variety of sports both exposed some of the kids to activities they’d never tried before, as well as kept them entertained, according to organizer Kristie Chapman.
“Some kids attention spans aren’t as long,” Chapman said. “For those kids, having a new sport each day gives them an opportunity to try something new.”
Chapman said the overall purpose of the camp was to provide a safe and fun environment to learn sports and to show the kids that people care about them. The kids also came away with a free T-shirt, got to know other kids and ate food, she said. Chapman said they shared stories from the Bible each day of the camp as well.
“We do want them to come away knowing God loves them and cares about them and that we also care about them,” she said.
It is the third year the camp has been at the high school after previously being held at Langley Middle School. Chapman said the camp started as a vacation Bible school over 30 years ago, but shifted to a sports camp just in the past five years.
There were several coaches from the high school’s sports teams who helped teach the kids, including tennis coach Karyle Kramer and boys basketball coach Mike Washington. Instructors from Armstrong’s Taekwondo in Clinton also taught the kids the basics of the discipline in the school’s mat room. Fifty-five volunteers helped throughout the three days.
Playing dodgeball in the high school’s auxiliary gym were friends Gretta Jones and Alexa Napoli. The duo were participating in the camp for the third time. Napoli, 8, said she wasn’t a big fan of the sports coming into the first day but changed her mind not long after the camp began. They said their favorite sport was dodgeball, but they also liked ultimate frisbee.
Jones, 7, said she learned the basics of the sports, but also the core principles of sportsmanship. Whenever Jones noticed someone wasn’t being involved, she and others would make sure he or she had a chance to participate.
“If they don’t get a turn, let them have a turn,” Jones said. “If someone hasn’t got it and we have got it a lot, we have to give it to them. If people felt left out, we bring them in and help them.”
Chapman said the kids also learned how to follow the rules, listen to coaches and build their character.
Maliya Thrasher, 8, was a first-time participant at the camp. She said she enjoyed playing all the sports, but her favorite was basketball.
“My brothers play basketball,” Thrasher said.
Thrasher said she would probably participate again next year if it is held again. Chapman said it was important to note that the event is for the community and that it will continue in the coming years.