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Be A Champ - Campers Focus On Fun, Fitness
Nine-year-old Lexi Konrath stays focused on her footwork, navigating the hula hoops as part of an obstacle course at the Champ Camp on Friday. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times


More than five dozen elementary students have learned what it means to be a CHAMP.

The youngsters attending the fifth year of “Champ Camp’ on the campus of Van Allen Elementary were put through the paces during the past week, focusing on physical health and well-being along with developing character.

“It’s building character through sports and games,” said Van Allen Elementary Principal Scott Ferreira.

CHAMP stands for Consider others, Have respect, Always work hard, Maintain control and Prove yourself, explained Ferreira.

Volunteer counselors at the camp came primarily from the ranks of Escalon High School and El Portal Middle School, working with the youngsters on a variety of activities. Parent volunteer Darick Webster served as assistant coordinator with Ferreira.

“It’s mostly kids from Van Allen but we also had some from Dent and Farmington,” Ferreira said of the campers, who enjoyed the weeklong camp from June 10 through 14, 9 a.m. to noon each day. “They’re busy.”

Last year, there were 38 kids in the camp and this year, that rose to more than 65 participants. There were 18 counselors as well. Cost was $50 per camper, though the fee went down by $10 per each additional camper from the same family.

“For that (fee), they get a camp shirt, a basketball, a sports drink each day and three hours of physical activity,” Ferreira said. “It’s a screamin’ deal.”

Friday was perhaps the most fun for the campers, as their counselors devised a series of obstacle courses for them to run to close out the weeklong camp. From hurdles to hula hoops, basketball to sit ups, the campers raced against the clock and tried to improve on their own times as they ran the course more than once.

Encouragement from campers also saw Ferreira give it a try, hustling his way through the many twists and turns.

He praised the efforts of the middle and high school counselors, who served as role models for the campers and also were charged with developing some of the games and setting a good example of sportsmanship and accountability throughout the week.

“We couldn’t do it without the counselors,” agreed Ferreira. “They are amazing.”

With the emphasis on personal growth and development, Ferreira said they also sat down as a group at the end of camp each day and selected several ‘champs’ that best epitomized the traits the camp stands for.

Designed for incoming second through sixth graders, Ferreira said the camp was a good size, but could expand to a maximum of 75 participants next year.

The school’s sports equipment is used and the program itself is put on with the cooperation of the Parents Club at Van Allen, with games ranging from hockey to Capture the Flag, Frisbee to badminton played during the week to focus on teamwork and cooperation.

Proceeds from the camp are earmarked for technology software upgrades at the school.