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WHS’ Cameron Wellness Center Offers Summer Camp for Kids in Grades 1-8

By Andrew Wilson

Healthy habits that begin early can last a lifetime, which makes finding a fitness center that has programs for the entire family invaluable.

“We consider ourselves to be a center for the whole family,” said Kate Stache, the fitness, aquatics, sports, and recreation manager at Washington Health System’s (WHS) Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center. “Some of our programs – like our swim lessons – start with children as young as six months.”

One of the most popular programs at the Wellness Center is the Summer Camp for kids in grades 1-8. Set up in either a half-day or full-day formats, the camp runs from June 13 through August 19, integrates play with sports performance, and teaches fitness-as-fun principles, which give kids the basics of being active and healthy for a lifetime.

“We have themes throughout the camp and focus on a different sport each week,” said Stache, adding that the atmosphere for the camp is non-competitive. “It is not an athletics-based camp. We want them to have an educational, but fun, experience.”

Campers participate in a variety of activities during the day. There is a period of swimming each day, but there is also time for crafts, fitness tests, hiking the outdoor trail, and general physical education, as well as participation in whichever sport is featured that week. In previous years, there have been guest instructors from the Washington Wild Things, Wheeling Nailers, the Pittsburgh Zoo, the Carnegie Science Center, and the Washington Drug and Alcohol Commission.

The children are separated into age groups and then get broken into teams, but Stache emphasizes that this is not for competition, but rather to keep each group small and easy for the leader to provide instruction when needed. In addition to all the activities, there is also a rewards program where campers can earn prizes by demonstrating good sportsmanship or behaviors throughout the day. Three good reports qualify them to win a prize.

“We practice open communication with all the parents. We let them know where their child excels and where they may need help,” she said, adding that the staff is very much aware that not every child will excel at every activity, but that’s okay. “We focus on where they do excel and always want to make them feel included.”

To illustrate this, Stache relates the story of one child who really excelled at running, and the staff complimented him on his efforts, which encouraged him to continue to do well.

“It was obvious that he liked receiving the praise, and we told his mother, who is also a runner, and that became an activity that they were able to do together,” she said.

The goal is to help everyone find a healthy activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.

“If they find an activity that they enjoy, they will stay with it,” said Stache.

Registration for Summer Camp at WHS’ Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center begins April 1. For more information or to register, please call (724) 225-WELL (9355) or you can register online at https://wrcameronwellness.org/kids-family/campsandclinics/.

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