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Camp furnishes fun and fitness

July 01, 2005|by TRISH RUDDER

trishr@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - For some children, a boring summer can lead to spending too much time watching television. For those attending the Morgan County Sports Camp, their days are filled with activities from archery to volleyball.

The camp has 60 participants attending this week and is sponsored by Morgan County Parks and Recreation, said Bob Banks, its acting director.

"We try to offer something different than being with a baby sitter," he said.

The Morgan County Sports Camp is in its ninth year, and the four-week program is for children ages 5 through 13 and runs from June 20 to July 22, with the Fourth of July week off, Banks said.

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Participants can attend one week or all four weeks. Banks said several families send several kids to sports camp.

The camp is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at Berkeley Springs High School. There is daily swimming at the Berkeley Springs State Park pool. On Thursdays, children hike, attend nature programs and ride horses at Cacapon State Park.

The sports camp is noncompetitive, Banks said. He said some of the younger children came the first day clinging to the parent, but after that, the parent barely gets a kiss goodbye.

"It builds self-esteem," Banks said.

A wide variety of activities are offered, including archery, fencing, nature hiking, swimming, horseback riding, basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball.

The camp director and coordinator is Ed Fincham, a physical education and recreation instructor at Shepherd University.

Fincham, who has been with the Morgan County Sports Camp since its inception, said he and his wife, also an educator, started a sports camp at Shepherd University 20 years ago.

Fincham said the camp is structured to meet the individual needs of every camper and to provide children with nonthreatening, noncompetitive activities.

Banks said Fincham starts off each camp with everyone forming a circle.

"He then says, 'Everybody is a winner and everybody has their space,'" Banks said.

Fincham said "the parents are tickled" because the kids come home and tell them about their day and are ready for bedtime because they were so active during the day.

"Obesity is a big issue," said Fincham and "getting more fit and losing weight" is good for kids.

Banks said the Morgan County school system provides the space for the camp at the high school. The high school principal, George Ward and athletic director, Chad Brinegar "are very receptive," he said.

Danelle Smith, a Berkeley Springs High School graduate, has been a sports camp counselors for six years. A senior at Shepherd University, she is studying Elementary Education.

"I enjoy it because it's a good summer job and it is preparing me for the future as a teacher," she said.

The sports camp is financially supported by the Eastern Panhandle Realtors Association, which donates scholarship money for kids who cannot afford the fee, Banks said.

"Some kids come every year, and you get to see new faces, too. It's a lot of fun for the kids," Smith said.

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