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Belmont sports camp gives kids a jump on fitness

| Friday, July 18, 2014, 12:46 a.m.
Brigid Beatty | Total Trib Media
Owen Check, 9, and Marcus Montebell, 7, matchup in a soccer drill at the Belmont Complex in East Franklin Thursday July 17, 2014 during a week-long sports camp.
Brigid Beatty | Total Trib Media
Fin Bennitt, 5, of Pittsburgh, cools off on the water slide at the Belmont Complex in East Franklin Thursday after participating in a sports camp at the facility on Thursday July 17, 2014

Children got a jump start on fitness during this week's sports camp at the Belmont Complex in East Franklin.

“We want kids to be active,” said Jen Yuvan of Jump Start Sports, the company that brought the weeklong camp to Armstrong County. “This will help enhance their well-being in every regard — emotionally, physically and socially.”

The Ohio company partners with recreational facilities, school districts and municipalities to offer the program to children ages 3 to 12.

With the camp's Olympic theme, teams of campers were divided into countries and learned about different cultures and sports that included track and field, soccer, basketball, floor hockey and lacrosse.

Owen Check, 9, was one of 18 children who participated in the program that started on Monday. He and friends Owen Brison and Zane Lasher, who are both 10 and attend West Hills Intermediate School, said the only tough thing about the camp was deciding which sport was their favorite.

“All of them,” said Check, who attends Lenape Elementary School. “I love to compete.”

On Thursday morning, teams of kids raced back and forth across the indoor arena for a track and field day event before crowding around Yuvan to tally up scores.

“I'm with Canada — we have 20 points,” Zane said before cooling off with the rest of the campers in Belmont's outdoor pool.

Having access to a pool is a bonus for the campers, Yuvan said.

“Belmont is a real hidden gem,” she said.

But Gary Montebell, Belmont's director, wants the pool to be anything but hidden.

“We're the only county pool, and we want more kids to come in,” he said as campers splashed and dove under the supervision of lifeguards and camp staffers.

As this year's camp winds down, Montebell is looking for ways to expand the program to include more children.

“This is the first year for it in Armstrong County,” Montebell said. “We hope to have the camp again next year, but instead of one week, I'd like to see it extend for two or three.”

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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