By Karl Weisel (Wiesbaden Family and MWR)July 15, 2019
WIESBADEN, Germany - Smiling faces and animated conversation filled the halls of the Hainerberg School Age Center as children returned from a session of Child and Youth Service's Basketball Summer Camp on June 25.
Wiesbaden-area youths have been enjoying a host of sports camps ranging from Flag Football to Soccer, Archery to Volleyball and Funtastic Fitness throughout the summer months.
"Our emphasis is on fun and fitness activities so that the kids will want to come back," said John English, Wiesbaden CYS Sports and Fitness Program director.
This year Wiesbaden CYS welcomed several university graduate-level student interns as part of a Recreation Readiness pilot program to help conduct the camps.
"This is a pilot project called Recreation Readiness where we're trying to offer standardized sports camps throughout the summer," said English. "We've been averaging about 40-plus kids."
English added that by featuring shorter camps for different age groups in partnership with local School Age Centers, CYS has made the camps more accessible to area youths.
"This has allowed us to bring our numbers back up," he said, explaining that in the past children had to choose between different programs during the summer months, but this year can participate together with other programs. "We're just trying to make it easier for them."
College graduate-level interns with sports backgrounds share their knowledge and expertise during the weekday camps while also having an opportunity to explore Europe during their down time.
"So far it has been awesome," said Mia Stewart, a Virginia Tech graduate student. "The staff has been very helpful in getting us acclimated and the kids are full of energy."
Stewart, who serves as an assistant coach for a club soccer team, said she welcomed the opportunity to "work as a coach and have the opportunity to travel. I get to bring my ideas here and then take back what I've learned to the intramural program at Virginia Tech."
"The kids teach you so much," said fellow instructor Mia Griner, from Kennesaw State University, adding that she looked forward to the chance to work with military children and to share what she has learned during her Sports Management studies.
"It's been amazing," she said, referring to both the Recreation Readiness camps and visiting various European destinations such as Rome. "I'm still in awe."
"I coach soccer, basketball and baseball at a private middle school," said Danny Kapps, a Physical Education graduate student at Adelphi University in New York.
"One of my former bosses was a founder of Recreation Readiness," Kapps said, adding that upon applying to take part in Wiesbaden's CYS summer programs he was especially interested in working with children from "a variety of backgrounds. I love building a rapport with the kids and really being able to teach them. It's helping me to relate better to different kids.
"Sports are almost secondary," Kapps added. "The primary goal is to offer a fun, stress-free environment" where participants learn to appreciate teamwork, staying fit and about the various sports being offered in the program.
"I like being able to work with the kids and helping them with their movement development," said Terence Garcia, who is currently working on a Master's Degree in Exercise Science at the University of South Florida.
"I love this environment. They come with a smile on their faces and it shows the difference sports makes in their lives," Garcia said.
"This is my first time in Europe and I appreciate getting the chance to see things most people don't get to see in their lifetimes," he added.
"Any time you can get kids moving during the summer is great," said Chad Jones, a CYS training specialist with the Installation Management Command-Europe.
Comparing Recreation Readiness to the Army's Functional Fitness programs, Jones said getting children physically fit while having fun and developing a passion for fitness are positive aspects of the summer sports camps. "It's really applicable to what we've been doing from an Army standpoint."
"Each child should have the same opportunities as stateside-based kids," said Dennis Krupa, program facilitator. "We want the children to be involved, be safe and have some fun.
"It's not just physical activity -- it's learning about the game," Krupa added.
Upcoming Wiesbaden CYS Summer Camps include: Soccer Session 1 on July 15-17, Funtastic Fitness July 22-24, Soccer Session 2 July 29-31, Volleyball July 29-31, Archery Session 1 July 29-31, Soccer Session 3 Aug. 5-7, Dodgeball Aug. 5-7 and Archery Session 2 Aug. 5-7.
For more information call the CYS Sports and Fitness Office at civ (0611) 143-548-9363 or stop by Parent Central Services in Building 1213 on Clay Kaserne. Details on the full range of CYS Summer Programs is also available on the Wiesbaden Family and MWR Home Page at https://wiesbaden.armymwr.com/promos/cys-summer-programs.