Summer Camps are back for the children at Monroe County Recreation Department, and they kicked off with Sports Camps this week with two-and-a-half hour sessions for K-5th grade in the mornings and two-and-a-half hour sessions for 6th-8th grade in the afternoons. Monroe County Sports Coordinators Kevin Patterson and Laura Darden have been leading the camps, giving some eager youth the chance to get away from home, interact with each other and pick up some skills.

Recreation Department Director Landon Sparks said his team would normally plan summer activities several months ahead, but just as they began doing so this March the COVID-19 shutdown came along and left them unsure of what they would be able to offer. Usually coaches for various sports at Mary Persons each conduct a camp for their sport. Since coaches weren’t able to do that this year, the Recreation Department planned camps that focus on a different sport each day.

Camp started with soccer on Monday, then there was basketball on Tuesday, flag football on Wednesday and finally baseball/softball on Thursday. Patterson said some of the campers experienced sports they hadn’t tried before. He pointed out to them some of the similarities in skills used in different sports, like dribbling and passing in soccer and basketball.

The camps are free because the city of Forsyth contributes funds, but this year the Recreation Department requires a $25 refundable deposit when a camper registers. Because of social distancing, spaces in camp are limited and registering is a commitment not to take a space you won’t use. 

Patterson said the young athletes are having fun, gaining knowledge about the games and developing skills and techniques. The older campers are taking on leadership roles and helping the younger ones. 

Coming up June 22-25 are Golf Camp and Science Camp. After July 4th there are five more summer camps. Call the Recreation Department at 478-994-7795 for more information or to register.

Patterson, who has taught high school and coached multiple sports at the high school level, has worked for Monroe County Recreation Department since August. He worked through football, soccer and most of basketball season before the shutdown and is now planning for Fall 2020. The Recreation Department plans a 4-year-old instructional football league. 

“A lot of parents want them to play, but are scared for them to start football,” said Patterson. “This will help with a smooth transition into the game for the younger age group.”

He looks at the COVID-19 shutdown at the Recreation Department as a challenge to find a way to overcome and grow. Sparks said the Monroe County fields welcomed a softball tournament the weekend of June 13-14 and is hosting another tournament this weekend. 

“We are working to adhere to all guidelines. They keep changing and we keep checking them,” said Sparks. “We want to lead by example, doing the right thing.”

He said during the weeks they could have organized sports on their fields, his team worked on improving the fields and the park. Sparks said there were some beautiful sunsets and chances to observe God’s creation during those weeks.