By John Larson
Children spent four days this week on the campus of the University of Puget Sound for the annual Little Logger Camp. Joleen LaMay, an assistant coach with the women’s basketball team at UPS, said the camp was founded by Robin Hamilton, who worked at the college for more than 30 years as an assistant softball coach, sports information director and associate athletic director before retiring a few years ago. LaMay, who teaches physical education classes at Sumner High School, has worked at UPS for 20 years as an assistant coach and has participated in the camp for 18 years. She is now director of Little Loggers.
In some years the camp draws 100 participants. This year it has 125, the maximum number allowed to register. “We struggle with the calendar,” LaMay remarked. In years when the 4thof July falls on a Saturday or Sunday, some parents plan vacations and take the following Monday off. In years like this, when Independence Day fell on a Thursday, registration numbers tend to be higher. This year the spots were all filled by early May. The youth come from around the Puget Sound region. “It is all from word of mouth,” LaMay said.
The youth are split into three age groups: 6- and 7-year-olds, 8- and 9-year-olds, and 10- to 12-year-olds. Each age group is split into four teams with nine or 10 players per team. Each day begins at 9 a.m. with the teams getting their assignments for athletic stations. They spend 15 minutes in warm-up exercises. They spend an hour on different parts of campus getting instruction on a variety of sports. Some are sent over to Baker Stadium for a lesson taught by the head football coach. Some of the sports are common at the high school and college level, such as volleyball and basketball. Some are activities the children may have done in a PE class or during recess at elementary school, such as floor hockey or dodgeball. Some of the stations are sports the children may have never been exposed to, such as lacrosse or tennis.
Some of the instructors are head or assistant coaches at UPS, while others are student/athletes. LaMay said the UPS students are paid a small amount of money as compensation, but mostly, “It is a way for them to give something back to the community.” Some of the UPS students are interested in careers working with children, such as teaching or coaching, so the camp gives them experience interacting with youth. One boy who used to participate has a father who works at UPS. Now a young adult, he has returned to help coach at the camp.
The children get a 30-minute break, then return to action in the afternoon until 4 p.m. LaMay said parents like the fact that their children can participate in a structured, organized activity during their summer break from school. “They know their kids are safe.” And they know their children are not just playing, but learning to play sports from college coaches and athletes. LaMay said that youth who have been exposed to more than one sport tend to have a stronger overall skill level than those who have focused on just one sport.
On the fourth and final day on July 11, the Logger Olympics were held at Baker Stadium. The opening ceremony had the youth walking along the track while the Olympics theme was played over the public address system. The day ended with awards being presented and participants getting their photos taken.