Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sports Village opens up to the kids for summer program

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Sports Village Children's Program Director Nicole McMillen is on a mission to give modern kids an "old school summer" through The Village Camp. The 9-week summer camp program is free of cellphones and iPads - and full of outdoor adventures, sports and skill-building.

McMillen said she was encouraged by Sports Village Owner Peggy Keel to direct The Village Camp five years ago.

"When I was a child I used to watch Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen movies. One of my favorites was when they went to summer camp," she explained. "I said then - when I get old enough I want to have a camp. This is my calling."

The 2015 camp began on June 1 and will conclude on July 31. Currently 70 children, ages 3 to 12, are enrolled in the program.

The children are divided into groups of 10 to 15 and work with a camp counselor - swimming, playing kickball, learning balance through yoga and more. McMillen said this is Olympic Week and that children are participating in an art project - painting team flags.

"There is not a lot of downtime. We keep them moving and like to mix it up," she said. "I've been blessed with a lot of great kids and great parents."

A unique aspect of the program is that it not only focuses on summertime fun and games - but on nutrition. McMillen said that they encourage healthy eating habits through positive responses and education.

"Peggy's idea was to get the kids to show one healthy item they had packed into their lunch. At first each child might have one healthy item, but by the end of the 9-weeks their whole lunch is healthy."

Each Wednesday the kids get hands-on with food, too. "We cook with a nutritionist," McMillen said. "This week we are making spaghetti and Greek salad."

She added that information is sent home with the children to encourage families to make healthy food choices outside of camp. "There is so much convenience with fast food, and we do that too, but this gets kids so excited about cooking and eating healthy. They learn about portions, serving size and the nutrients they get."

For more information on The Village Camp, go to

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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