Children’s Lifetime Sports Academy celebrates 25 years

Seth Kinker
Aurora Advertiser

The Children’s Lifetime Sports Academy, hosted annually by the Kinesiology department at Missouri Southern State University, celebrated its 25th year by returning to an in-person camp after it had to be held virtually last year due to COVID19.

Last year, they knew by May that the event would have to be held virtually.

“But at that point, kids had done school virtually for so many months,” said Children Lifetime Sports Academy co-director Stephanee Schiding. “Being able to be back in person is huge, especially for the 25th year. Kids want to be together and you can’t really get that social aspect when they’re home in front of a computer. The social and emotional learning is awesome.”

The Children’s Lifetime Sports Academy was started by former faculty member Pat Lapira when she felt a there was a need for students to be able to do lifetime activities. It’s goal then was to teach the skills and promote the appreciation of lifetime activities and that goal continues today.

“There are team sports all over the place but there aren’t a lot of opportunities to learn a variety of lifetime sports, things they can do forever, things like golf, frisbee and pickleball,” said Schiding. “She was instrumental in getting that started. Our camp, our academy, is all inclusive. Even if you have a disability you can come and be successful, we modify the activities so everyone has a good time.”

Ghost in the Graveyard, an opening activity at the Children's Lifetime Sports Academy.

This year, the camp ran from Jun. 7-10 with just under 100 kids, ages 7-12, from the local area and surrounding communities participating in a bevy of activities that included rhythmic activities, bowling, frisbee, racquet sports, pickleball, cup stacking, swimming, martial arts, golf, fishing, disc golf, archery and canoeing.

Most of the activities remain the same year to year but they also adjust. Pickleball, for example, is one of the fastest growing lifetime activities in the nation and it was added into the rotation this year.

Instruction for these activities is provided by Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) faculty, Physical Education majors, Health Promotion majors and staff members from the Missouri Conservation Department.

MSSU senior Jeff Treat, a physical education major and camp counselor, is taking the class for his program that will help him earn his teaching certificate while others take the class to help them earn their coaching certificate as well.

“I love being around the kids and seeing them get excited for fun activities that they wouldn’t be able to do just on their own,” said Treat. “We canoe, we go to Kellogg lake in Carthage to go canoeing, play disc golf, archery, just some things that kids aren’t able to do sometimes. It’s awesome being around the kids and seeing how excited they get.”

A modified version of tag, with pool noodles, an opening activity at the Children's Lifetime Sports Academy.

The campers are separated into groups at the start of the camp and have a daily opening activity when they get to the camp before being rotated through events throughout the week so that they all get an opportunity to try all of the different things the camp has to offer.

MSSU senior Maggie Moore, a Health Promotion and Wellness major and camp counselor, said this was her first year involved but thinks she’ll be involved in the following years as well.

“This is just one way that we can reach out to the community and spread information on how to stay active,” said Moore. “(Show them) fun activities to do in the summer and that you can keep doing throughout your lifetime. It’s very rewarding and a great opportunity.

Moore also touched on the all inclusivity aspect of the camp, with one of her campers having spina bifida which is a condition that effects the spine.

“We’re actually learning and implementing what we learned in the classroom,” said Moore. “One of the classes we have to take here is physical education for special populations. We’re learning about how we can modify activities for people with spina bifida or children with autism.”

Sharks and Minnows, an opening activity at the Children's Lifetime Sports Academy.

Judy Schneider, an adjunct instructor at MSSU, was at the camp on its last day to teach dance.

In the past, Schneider had taught dance in an elementary school, performing arts at the high school level for 20 years and a class for all physical education majors on how to teach dance in elementary school. Now, she teaches ballroom dancing at MSSU.

“I think it’s underused,” said Schneider of dance. “It’s an activity everyone can do, there’s no score, no one can lose at dance. No one is on a losing team, it’s a good way to socialize. But a lot of people are scared to teach it. They think they won’t be on count with the music, or, ‘I don’t know how to dance,’ You can. Kids love it.”

“I think for our students, especially since the pandemic, they haven’t been able to get out in the classroom like they would normally,” said Schiding. “So, for some of them it’s the first time they’re able to be out with the kids. They spent time in the classroom teaching the lessons to each other but when they’re actually teaching those lessons to the kids, it just clicks. And they get to see how fun and rewarding it can be, and how simple modifications can make things better for the students, I think that’s my favorite part of the camp.”

Keep your eyes peeled next summer for the Children’s Lifetime Sports Academy hosted by MSSU.