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Summer camps help kids gain physical, mental strength

Kristen B. Morales

April 13, 2017

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Area children will be able to exercise their bodies and minds thanks to several summer camps offered by the University of Georgia College of Education.

Along with an annual athletic training camp and Camp Red Clay, which encourages literacy, a new camp this year connects middle school girls with activities such as yoga, games and nutrition information. The UGA FitDawgs Girls' Summer Camp is a chance for middle school-age girls to learn healthy habits—and also help researchers learn how to maintain those habits over the long term.

"We are testing a motivational approach with this camp, and then we have a 12-week follow-up" said Sami Yli-Piipari, an assistant professor in the College of Education's department of kinesiology. "So we are doing the camp because we can engage them in nice physical activities, but there's also sustainable change happening in the summer—that's why this study is unique."

Yli-Piipari said each weeklong camp will offer days packed with activities, ranging from yoga in the mornings to a variety of games, goal-setting exercises, lessons on healthy living and nutrition and a daily creative activity. Taught with the assistance of graduate students, participants will follow up with the UGA students after the summer has ended to gauge how much exercise they are continuing to do.

For that reason, the camp is better suited to girls who may not be motivated to exercise. "We are trying to help them with motivational strategies; they are changing their behavior and they understand why it is good for them, and they understand and can see ore sustainable change," he added.

The FitDawgs Girls' Summer Camp is one of several offered through the College of Education. Camp offerings and details include:

  • UGA FitDawgs Girls' Summer Camp: A free weeklong day camp for rising sixth- through eighth-graders who want to take part in a research study. Takes place weekly starting June 5, 12, 19 and 26. Activities take place 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays in the UGA Ramsey Center. Details and registration
  • 19th annual Athletic Training Student Workshop: This three-day camp, which takes place June 19-21 at the UGA Ramsey Center, is open to high school students who are either interested in athletic training or are committed to a career in the field. $240-$300. Details: 706-542-4230.
  • Camp Red Clay: Open to rising third- through 12th-graders, this weeklong camp takes place 9 a.m.-2 p.m. June 5-8 at Clarke Central High School. This camp is sponsored by the Red Clay Writing Project, an outreach effort of the College that encourages creative writing and storytelling. $120. Details and registration