Mary Wannall at Real Life Fitness held a month-long day camp two days a week to encourage fourth- through sixth-graders to grasp concepts of healthy living.
Wannall said, “We covered a wide variety of topics. I taught them proper form while exercising. Many kids do push-ups and sit-ups in P.E. but don’t understand the importance of using the proper techniques. We taught them basic exercises, like squats, push-ups and ab exercises.
“We also learned the basics of step aerobics, which helps with coordination. We started off the month by running a quarter-mile but by the end we were running a full mile either outside or on treadmills. Another area we worked on stretching, balance and coordination techniques.
“Our big focus was to educate them and keep them moving. Most sessions we reviewed healthy eating. I explained to them the harmful effects of eating too much sugar and fast food. Many kids don’t know how sugar affects their body, making them lethargic. I made healthier eating suggestions, like choosing almonds instead of chips. A lot of what I told them was they need to be responsible for what they eat. They can ask their parents to buy fruit instead of cookies. Also, most of them relate sugary snacks with cakes and cookies but don’t realize how much sugar is in soft drinks. We talked consistently about how important it is to drink enough water.
“A lot of kids said they have a Wii at home that they use, which does provide them with some physical activity, but I encouraged them to ride their bikes more or built forts outside. The earlier we can reach kids with the message of health and fitness, the more likely they are to maintain it later in life. It is much harder to break those unhealthy habits the older we get. If we can teach them to be responsible and enjoy fitness now it will go a long way to fighting obesity in this country.”
The hour-long program met at Real Life Fitness in the West End Commons. Wannall hopes to restart the program in August once school resumes.
The Booth Western Art Museum is holding two summer programs during the month of July. The first is Fur, Feathers, Fins and More, which is based on the current art and animal exhibit.
Lisa Wheeler, director of education at Booth museum, said, “It is a fun, educational way to experience animals from all over the world. Through a film and an art project, the children learn attributes of different species.”
The second offering is hands-on art making at the Booth Art Academy. Two remaining week-long programs offer paint and collage from July 14 to 18 and folk art July 22 to 25. Openings are still available.
“The arts in general help expand children’s natural creativity; children who are creative grow up to be more well-rounded adults,” Wheeler said.
The Bartow History Museum works to pique children’s interest with one- or two-day camps, as well as week-long programs.
“One of the strengths of our camps is that we are a place for all kids to come together and make friendships,” Kelly Schlott, manager of programs at the BHM, said. “We have children from the Boys & Girls Club, homeschooled children and those from both public and private schools.”
The history museum has camps scheduled until the end of July. During the upcoming Native American week, participants ages 7 to 11 will learn native games, make pinch pots and create a pictograph story.
“The most important thing for parents to remember is there are a wide variety of local camps. Children have great experiences at science and history camps throughout the summer.”
For information on the youth fitness camp at Real Life Fitness, email inquiries to email@example.com or call 404-940-8085.
The Booth Western Art Museum can be contacted 770-387-1300; information on the Bartow History Museum’s camps can be found at www.bartowhistorymuseum.org.