Growing Strong with Movement

Posted: November 15, 2010

What do you do with nearly 30 boys and girls outside on a hot summer day? Dance, play ball and read of course!

The creative and dedicated team of Penn State 4-H interns Mike Miller, Terrence Rineer, Griffin Davey, Danielle Chmelewski and 4-H program Assistant Tracy Murdaugh collaborated with the Avon Grove Library and Girl Scouts of Eastern PA in a sports, dance and reading camp for the youth at Avon Grove Trailer Park on Chestnut Street in West Grove. Despite the summer’s soaring 90 degree plus temperatures, children gathered daily in the open space of their community to participate in the 4-H summer camp.

Starting each program with a team-building game, the younger children would then sit on a tarp in the shadeand listen to a book reading by literacy specialist Elena Miller from Avon Grove Library. The older boys and girls would break off into those who wanted to play team sports, and those who wanted to do Girl Scouts and/or learn various forms of dance introduced by Chmelewski. Each day during the free four day camp the children participated in a different team sport with special emphasis on learning the rules to each game, sportsmanship, skill building, teamwork and validations for their own personal plays and contributions. Miller, Rineer and Davis coached rousing games of soccer, kickball, dodge ball and baseball. By the end of each game everyone was smiling, patting backs and heading for the water station, forgetting all about who won or lost. Meanwhile, children who chose dance for the activity were practicing choreographed and improvisational moves for a short dance set to be presented at the Romano Center 4H fair held August 7th to August 14th.

With the committed efforts put forth by each adult involved at the Chestnut Street camp, the children learned valuable lessons in confidence, competence, courage, and connection to a caring adult. The last day of camp the children were led on a walking field trip to the Avon Grove Library and after spending quiet time with the books, were given library registration forms to bring home to their parents. On the walk back to the community eight-year-old Jose was skipping and jumping enthusiastically while saying “Good-bye Uncle Mike, good-bye Uncle Terry, goodbye Aunt Tracy!” Realizing it was the last day of camp ten-year-old Evelyn scrunched her face and protested, “I don’t want you to go”; a simple testimony intimating the bonding experience for the children of Chestnut Street and the adult leaders of the 4H Creating Community Networks summer camp program.


By Tracy Murdaugh