Program teaches children sports skills in summer

Jessica MacIntosh

Staying fit throughout life is the name of the game.

Missouri Southern will be hosting its ninth-annual Children’s Lifetime Sports Academy June 7-10.

“It provides an opportunity for children in the area to teach them lifetime skills,” said Dr. Pat Lipira, head of the department of kinesiology. “It promotes an excitement in them that they’ll want to continue to play those skills and improve on them.”

Lipira said this camp is different from a sports camp.

“Kids that are not highly skilled are not typically comfortable in those kinds of camps because they feel like maybe they’re not good enough to participate,” she said.

With this camp, children do not have to have skill to participate.

“We just want them to play,” Lipira said. “It is not about winning and losing; it’s not about competition.”

Lipira came up with the idea for the Lifetime Sports Academy when her nephew went to one at Missouri Western State College. She said he was excited about the camp.

“I recognized at that point in time that was something we needed to do down here,” she said. “I pretty much used that as a guide. I began to get the literature on it and decided it was something that we could pursue down here.”

Patty Vavra, women’s track and field head coach, and Lipira are co-directors of the Lifetime Sports Academy

Last year, 90 children participated in the camp. It was also this first year the camp offered fishing.

“They were really excited about that (the fishing),” Lipira said.

This year, Lipira said close to 100 children would participate in the camp.

The children not only participate in activities on campus, but at other facilities, too.

“We began to get some sponsors, which helped a lot,” Lipira said.

For the program, they use Range Line Golf, Bowl East and Walter Woods Conservation Area.

Susan Flowers, senior physical education major, has volunteered for the camp as a counselor for the past two years.

“(I) plan to help again this summer,” Flowers said. “It has been a great experience for me as I prepare to teach physical education, and I love watching the children have fun trying new things.”

Flowers’s daughter, Sarah, has participated in the camp for two years and will be participating this year.

“She is very excited and has been talking about it for months,” she said. “It is hard to get her to pin down what she liked best about the event, although I know she really likes the opportunity to play racquetball.”

Flowers said the variety, enthusiastic counselors and positive atmosphere attract her daughter to the camp.

Lipira said parents love the camp.

“We get the requests to do it all summer,” she said. “We get the requests to do it all day. For example, we teach them Frisbee, and they (children) go home and ask mom and dad if they can go buy a Frisbee. Probably one of the most rewarding things we get out of it is they are wanting to do these things when they leave us.”

The cost to participate in the camp is $65. There is a $10 discount if the child is a child or grandchild of a faculty or staff member of Southern.

To receive a copy of the registration form, go to the program’s Web site at www.mssu.edu/kin/sportsacademy.htm and download a form or call the kinesiology department at 625-9316. Registration can also be one online.

The deadline for pre-registration is June 1.

For more information, contact the kinesiology department, Lipira at 625-9573 or Vavra at 625-3063.