Archive for Sunday, August 15, 1999


August 15, 1999


The Sports Skills and Fitness Camp offers young students a way to stay in shape.

While most kids played with their friends or watched television, 7-year-old Addison Frei learned a new way to balance in gymnastics.

He also learned Tai-Bo, tennis, swimming, aerobics, kickboxing, soccer and cycling.

Addison was a 1999 participant in the monthlong Sports Skills and Fitness School offered for the past 20 summers at Kansas University.

"My mom thought it would be pretty fun," Addison said. "I like sports, and it's exciting."

The camp offers students, ages 6 to 14, the opportunity to participate in fitness activities that they might not otherwise be exposed to, and to stay in shape throughout the summer.

Organizers Jim LaPoint and Leon Greene started the camp in 1980 as a way to get young students involved in physical fitness.

"We saw it as an opportunity for kids to learn physical education, with skills they aren't taught in elementary school, because of time or other factors," LaPoint said. "It's important to expose kids to other activities."

The first year the camp was in place, LaPoint and Greene had 30 students sign up for a one-month session. This year, more than 115 students signed up in two sessions, each one a month long. Some students were so enthusiastic they signed up for both camps, LaPoint said.

"We try to keep them moving," he said.

"We try to make it fun. For the first 20 to 25 minutes we do aerobic activity. We get out and walk fast or go to Allen Fieldhouse and run stairs. If you don't call it 'running,' it's fun. If you say you're going running, then it's not fun."

After the initial warm-up, students trade off doing three activities for almost two hours. Activities may include gymnastics, cycling, aerobics, games or other fitness activities. The last activity of the day is swimming.

"Overall, the kids have been motivated to learn new activities and have worked hard," LaPoint said. "It's interesting for us, because from a professor's perspective, we forget how kids learn. It makes us better teachers. We have to keep the information new, and keep it interesting, and I think that's really good for us."

The camp is noncompetitive, with the emphasis on participation, not winning, LaPoint said.

"We don't care who wins," he said. "We have a lot of 'ties.'"

Travis Paustian went through the camp summer after summer as a child, and now works as a fitness instructor.

"My mom heard about it, and thought I would like it," he said. "I really liked it. I liked the sports aspect. We swam every day and it was a fun atmosphere."

Paustian said the extra activity helped him stay in shape for junior high sports.

"I remember I was always tired at the end of the day," he said. "I had a lot of fun."

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