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Liberty News

Students, alumni, staff share knowledge and skills with campers

June 24, 2015 : By Ted Allen/Liberty University News Service

Ranging from aviation and debate to volleyball and wrestling, Liberty University’s Summer Camps provide participants unlimited opportunities for recreational adventure and educational growth — with a healthy dose of spiritual edification. They also give Liberty students, alumni, and staff valuable experience in teaching their craft.

Summer camps at Liberty include the elementary school Theatre Camp.
Liberty theatre students direct elementary school-aged campers in rehearsal for 'Annie KIDS' in Tower Theater.

Liberty University Theater Camps, coordinated by Department of Theatre Arts Associate Professor Chris Nelson, give elementary, middle school, and high school students a stage to develop their acting talents under guidance from Liberty student counselors, mostly theatre majors.

“It is truly one of my favorite times of the year, interacting with and mentoring talented and teachable young artists,” Nelson said. “One of the concentrations we have within our degree program is teacher licensure and the director of one of our productions was a teaching major. For other students taking directing or choreography classes, this is a good opportunity and a great challenge for them to direct children and to teach what they’ve been learning.”

Timmy Williamson, who graduated in 2014 with dual degrees in Theatre Arts with a specialty in performance and Music and Worship, is in his third year on the camp staff. He said the elementary and middle school camps are counselor-driven and directed — from acting instruction to musical arrangement and choreography.

“It’s a lot of fun being able to help the kids to perform a high-caliber show in such a short period of time,” Williamson said. “Nelson instills in us to set the bar really high, and the kids do an incredible job.”

Next Level Ski and Snowboard camp instructor Kevin Hoff supervises starts.
Liberty senior snowboarder Kevin Hoff (left) supervises skiers on the beginner's slope at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center during last week's first Next Level Day Camp.

Liberty senior Isaac Gibson has witnessed the same speed of development among budding snowboarders and skiers at the Next Level summer camps, hosted for the third year at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre (LMSC).

“It’s great seeing these little guys come out here, barely being able to ride down the slope, and after two days getting up the lift and progressing,” Gibson said on the second day of the first of two day camps this month. “I can’t wait to see how they do after a week of training.”

Liberty ski and snowboard Head Coach Ryan Leeds said the experience is equally valuable to the 10 members of his team spending their summer months serving as instructors and counselors.

“Any time you participate in a sport and you get an opportunity to coach it, it’s really beneficial because it gets you to focus back on the fundamentals,” he said. “You have to break down a trick and explain how to do it.”

The Next Level overnight camps (July 12-17 and July 19-24) have nearly reached their capacity of 105 campers. LMSC’s staff and team members will be joined by 15 counselors and 13 coaches from Skiers and Snowboarders For Christ (SFC), many from Colorado, the Northwest, and Canada.

Counselors not only teach lessons on the slopes, but interact with campers during free-time activities at Liberty Mountain Skate Park, Liberty paintball fields, Thomas Indoor Soccer Center, and the LaHaye Student Union’s rock climbing wall and swimming pool. They also join the campers for meals and lead Bible studies.

Similarly, Liberty students and staff are sharing their expertise with younger generations during camps operated by Liberty’s NCAA Division I Athletics programs — from football to volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and track & field.

Flames Football Head Coach Turner Gill, with help from a select group of his coaching staff and returning and former players, is directing multiple camps throughout the summer, including 13 One-Day Prospect Camps for high school players in June and July and a Kids’ Camp from July 13-17.

Liberty Women's Basketball Assistant Coach Brittany Hoyt (back) works with players from Temple Christian Academy on a rebounding drill in the Lady Flames' Team Camp.

Several women’s basketball players and all four members of the coaching staff were among the 20-plus counselors and clinicians for the Lady Flames’ Team Camp, which drew over 250 campers to the Vines Center this month.

Brandt Tolsma, head coach of Liberty’s cross country and track & field programs, hopes to jumpstart his teams’ recruiting efforts by reviving the track & field overnight and day camp and introducing a new cross country team camp in August. The track & field camp, featuring a staff of seven coaches and five student-athletes, drew 32 campers from as far away as Florida and New York to Liberty’s Tolsma Indoor Track Center and outdoor Matthes-Hopkins Track Complex last week. Three of last summer’s 24 campers went on to compete for Liberty.

Tolsma said that while it is a recruiting tool, the camp has a dual purpose of improving athletes’ techniques and increasing their faith: “We have devotionals every day, so it’s more than just track & field.”

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