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Choctaw Youth Camps promote cultural enrichment, active lifestyles

BasketeersDURANT, Okla. - The Choctaw Nation has many organizations to promote the growth of their youth. Whether it is teaching them the Choctaw language or aiding them in furthering their education, it's evident that the Choctaw Nation cares about its youth excelling. The Summer Youth Activity Camps provide Choctaw children with opportunities to participate in various sports and activities, promoting an active lifestyle and productivity in the young population.
There are several Choctaw Cultural Events employees who are in charge of the camps. Kevin Gwin is the Youth Camp Coordinator, and he has been helping with the camps for the past six years. "I have always enjoyed working with kids," said Kevin, "so it was an easy choice when my executive director offered me this job."
With the help of his assistants, Kevin is responsible for setting up the dates, locations and times for all the camps. He's also in charge of ordering the sports equipment that is given to the campers and responsible for finding and hiring coaches.
 "Over the years I meet lots of coaches," said Kevin. The Summer Youth Camps have responsible coaches and staff who are motivated to give the kids a good time while teaching them about the sport or activity of their choice. "When I tell the coaches what I do, and ask if they would like to help in the summers, they jump at the opportunity."
There are six camps offered to the kids. The camp that shows kids different aspects of the Choctaw heritage and culture, the cultural enrichment camp, gives them some exciting opportunities. The campers take part in stickball, archery, arts and crafts, storytelling and the Choctaw language.
Though the cultural enrichment camp gives campers the chance to shoot a bow and arrow and play some stickball, it's the golf camp that usually has the most participants. It's the staff and instructors' priority to teach each participant, whether it be a first-time golfer or an advanced golfer, the rules and game of golf.
"My personal favorite [camp] is golf," Kevin said, "because I love to play golf myself." The golf camp is also Kevin's favorite sport to put his coaching skills to work. "Because I play so much, I feel I can help all skill levels with something in their golf games."
The baseball and softball camps were conducted by former Division I players from the Big XII and ACC Conference in softball and top Oklahoma high school coaches. The players were coached in areas of hitting, pitching and fielding. Each camper was given the proper instruction that will help improve his or her level of play. They were also shown how setting goals and self-discipline will not only help their playing ability, but help them in their everyday lives off of the field.
During the basketball camp, the campers learned fundamental skills of basketball to use throughout his or her school career with the ultimate goal of playing college-level basketball. They picked up tips from high school head coaches and former university players.
The football camp this summer featured the University of Oklahoma's Assistant Coach and Quarterback Coach, Josh Heupel, former Big XII players and former NFL coaches. The boys received instruction in areas of offensive drills, defensive drills and Sooner ball.     
The Summer Youth Camps have about 2,500 kids participate each summer. The selection of activities, from learning the Choctaw language to hitting a homerun, give Choctaw children opportunities to have a fun summer learning more about the sport they love to play.
"I feel very fortunate to work for great employees at the Choctaw Nation," said Kevin. "Without everyone's help from my department and all other departments that volunteer their time, these camps would not be possible."
If you are interested in getting your child active next summer, the application deadlines for each camp are in April. Applications have to include copies of the child's Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood card and Choctaw Nation membership card. Saying, "I can't wait to see the kids again next year," Kevin is already anxious to get started for the summer of 2011. Whichever of the six camps your child chooses to attend, the coaches, along with the Cultural Events and Summer Camps employees, promise them a fun, active and educational time.

Below is the link to the registration froms.

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