Kids get to be active and learn new skills at Camp Tiger Tails.
For most kids, the first day of summer is the ultimate thrill of freedom. But after approximately one day of being out of school for the summer, they start complaining about being bored. Camp Tiger Tails on the Jackson State University campus is the just the right cure for summer time boredom. The wellness camp for ages 5-16, now in its seventh year, offers all-day age-appropriate, yet challenging activities designed to combat poor diet habits and lack of exercise—two major factors in Mississippi's childhood obesity problem.
"It's a fun camp. It offers academics, recreational activities, life skills and a fitness component," says Rachel Cowan, director of the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center.
Campers enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities including games, trips and special events. Past field trips have included outings to the local museums, a Mississippi Braves game, the art museum's Curious George exhibit and other children's events happening in the city.
"(The camp) is run by JSU students," Cowan says. "For the academic part of it, we use elementary education students. For the fitness part of the camp, we use recreation students. So the students are getting trained and experience, and the (campers) are getting quality."
Camp Tiger Tails also hires tennis students or golf students to teach the fundamentals of those sports to the campers. "What we try to do is to expose the kids to sports other than football and basketball," Cowan says. "Because whenever you ask the kids 'What do you guys want to do?,' the kids typically say basketball and football. We try to expose them to a sport that they normally wouldn't be exposed to."
At the end of camp is a big celebration for the kids. This year, other JSU departments will partner with the camp to do a bike rodeo—a clinic to teach children the skills and precautions to ride a bicycle safely.
Camp Tiger Trails runs May 26-June 27. Camp sessions are 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. The cost is $70 per week or $350 for the five-week session. Costs include special activities, arts and crafts, field trips, a camp T-shirt, breakfast, lunch, and two snacks and drinks each day. To register, visit jsums.edu/paytoncenter/youth-services, or call 601-979-1368.