Local camp combines sports and academics

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

Summer vacation should be a time for staying away from school for three months. That's why it's called a vacation.

But once in a while, it's OK to take a quick check back at the skills that keep local youths sharp for those 10 months that they're hard at work in classrooms. That's why, for the past 11 years, the Parks and Recreation Department keeps kids in shape in the body and the mind with its SPOR-AC (Sports-Academics) camp, which began Monday at Nansemond River High School. Roughly 90 kids are taking part in the four-week event.

"Our purpose is to expose kids to types of sports and activities that they might not normally be exposed to," said facilitator Janis Fulgan. "Kids have been playing basketball, tennis, flag football and kickball. They take part in activities and combine them with education. We do critical thinking activities; one child describes how he would deal with a certain uncomfortable situation, and other kids write down how they would deal with it."

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Before classes, the kids warm up their minds with games like "Icebreakers," in which they say an adjective starting with the same letter as their name. They then have to recite the names and adjectives of all their classmates. First-time camper Kayla Magnum described the contest.

"I picked, ‘Kind Kayla,'" she said. "It was all I could think of. We did some brain teasers and multiplication and learned a lot of reading and math. We did some crossword puzzles and mazes. This helps us think and stay focused."

Every week, a new guest speaker comes to discuss certain subjects with the kids. Someone from Planned Parenthood visited to speak on family life, and a SunTrust bank representative came to mention savings, checking and investing money.

"It's different every year," said Steve Skinner, in his third year of attending SPOR-AC. "They do different stuff. We play games in class, like checkers and Monoploy. It's a very fun activity place."

That's something Jenay Wolfrey is finding out for the first time.

"Everybody I talked to said that this was fun, and I decided to try it," said the John F. Kennedy Middle School student. "It's not boring, like it would be if I had to stay home all summer."

Supervisor Norman Warren hopes that more and more kids learn that over the next few years.

"This is a great program," he said, cleaning up after lunch. "There's a lot of room for growth and expansion."