Children mimic Olympians in summer camp

Published 1:52 pm Thursday, July 24, 2008

Twenty-five elementary-age children spent last week training for and participating in Olympics-style activities at Montevallo’s four-day Olympics Day Camp sponsored by the city’s park and recreation board.

The camp was the brainchild of Dr. Freda Shivers, who recently retired from the University of Montevallo. Shivers coordinated and directed the camp.

“Our goals are to expose these children to different cultures and to promote their interests and understanding of them,” Shivers said. “Also, we want them to learn about and enjoy the various sports and, of course, this summer’s Olympic games.”

The children learned about China, Mexico, Japan and France. They learned phrases in those languages, talked about their different customs, created crafts that represented those countries and learned about the sports that were popular there. On Wednesday, special guests were some of the Japanese middle-school students currenty visiting Montevallo.

“They were nice, I liked them,” commented Abby Wilson, a six-year-old camper. “But they talk funny — that was the hard part.”

Part of the day’s activities was a special emphasis on the Olympic game in which each country excelled. Guests gave demonstrations and then allowed the children to participate in the games. On China’s day, the guests were Coach Glenn Albarado of the Alabaster Youth Wrestling Association and UM student Jordan O’Hara, whose specialty is rhythm gymnastics. Mexico’s featured sport was soccer with Montevallo High School student, Brett Gray. Homer Brown of Bumper Nets demonstrated and talked about Japan’s table tennis. One of the most popular demonstrations was fencing, featured for France, by David and Troy Arias of the Birmingham Fencing Club.

At the end of each day, the children learned the history, oaths, creed and motto of the Olympics. Instructors and counselors for the camp were Cindy Ross, Joanne Butcke Julie Mayhall and Hilda Hicks. Shivers said that due to the tremendous success of this summer’s camp, a similar one will be planned for next summer.

Catherine Legg can be reached at