Last but not least... We completed the final Lakota Forever Running & Fitness Camp of the summer in Allen, SD! This camp was the most special one for me so far because Julia from the Running Strong HQ office and Dustin, my Mentor, from Wings of America were there accompanying me. It was also significant to me because the location of the camp was at the Allen Youth Center which I helped raise money for when I ran the New York City Marathon for Team One Spirit last November.
My co facilitators and I did a lot of advertising and promotion to make sure we had a good turnout for this last camp. That still didn't seem to be enough. As we were coming closer to start time of the first day we had less than the expected numbers of kids so we took it upon ourselves to walk the neighborhood and knock on doors to speak with families and recruit campers. That worked out well. We got the first day of the last camp started with a large number of participants.
The kids are running and playing. Probably not sure what's going on and maybe a bit nervous and shy. I call out in a loud but welcoming voice "Alright everyone put the balls and hula hoops away and come sit on the ground in front of me please!" It's time for introductions. I introduced myself, as well as the co-facilitators, in a friendly and passionate manner.
Our next activity were dynamic warm ups. These kids figure out real quick that this is an actual running camp where we are going to learn technical stuff about running and just not play all day! We get finished with the warm-ups and it's time for the heart of the camp... "The group run!" We found an old dirt road trail that went into the fields behind the community to an abandoned baseball field. We ran there for our group run and the kids really enjoyed themselves.
After the run we did our cool-down stretches as usual to practice safe running and work on flexibility. We played a couple fun running games before lunch to keep the kids engaged and happy with the camp. Lunch was turkey breast sandwiches with oven baked chips, watermelon and Gatorade. After lunch I presented a health poster board as I would normally do but I also let our visitors from Running Strong and Wings say a few inspiring words.
We play a few more running games with the kids to make sure they had a good time and got plenty of exercise. Now it's time to give out T-shirts, take group pictures, say farewells and give out snacks. We had 3 beautiful banners from Running Strong, Wings and One Spirit that the kids held during the picture. All in all I say is that it was amazing! I felt like we taught the kids a lot but even learned more from them. It's always good to remember to be playful and happy. Those new little runners left a positive impact on me and give me hope for my people's future.
Thanks Running Strong! Wopilá