The cafeteria in Tvshka Homma was buzzing with excited and tired athletes. Everyone was eating pizza after practicing baseball all morning. These athletes range in age from 8 to 18 and were from all over the Choctaw Nation. They were there for the baseball camp that is part of the Choctaw Nation’s annual summer camps.
Every year the Choctaw Nation hosts around 2,000 athletes in a variety of sports and activities.
“The purpose of these camps is to further the education and abilities of these students and to have fun,” said Javen Henson, director of Youth Events and Activities for the Choctaw Nation. The summer camps include cultural enrichment, golf, softball, baseball, stickball, football, wildlife conservation, basketball, and the newest addition, cheer.
According to the senior director of Youth Activities, Kevin Gwin, cheer camp has been requested by students and parents.
“We weren’t sure what the turnout would be like our first year, but we knew people wanted this camp. We think this is a great turnout for the first year,” said Gwin.
A total of 129 students came to Tvshka Homma for the two-day camp.
Henson said they bring in coaches from all over the area to assist with the camp. The coaches work on skills with the students as well as mentor them.
“One of the best parts about having all these coaches here, is that the kids get a lot of information and ideas they may not normally get,” she commented. “We always try to bring in a very qualified staff that is great with kids, knows their sport, and just all-around good people who can be a light in these kids’ lives while they’re here for a couple of days…and just be good role models.”
Often the cost of similar sports camps prohibits some athletes from attending. Gwin said that he was very glad that, through these summer camps, they could provide access to great coaches and mentors for kids that might not have the opportunity otherwise.
Jon Garza was the lead cheer coach this year and seemed to enjoy the experience. “I love that we are providing this opportunity to the schools in the Nation because when I was growing up there weren’t gyms or programs to develop skills and now we are able to give back to these kids,” said Garza.
If you would like more information on summer camps or to register for the 2020 summer camps, visit http://www.choctawsummercamps.com. All registration for 2020 summer camps will be online only. Contact Kevin Gwin with any questions at: 580-924-8280, ext. 2517.