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Connellsville gears up for summer sports camps

| Monday, June 15, 2015, 10:36 p.m.

Schools are out for the year, and as the summer sets in, youths in the area may soon be looking for something fun to do.

The Connellsville Summer Camp Program has a lot to offer anyone looking for fun activities in the upcoming months.

Hosted by the Connellsville Recreation Board, the program offers many different camps that include tennis, flag football, basketball, sand volleyball, swimming and diving, theater and a special public art project.

“We added the theater and the arts camp in order to be able to offer something even for those kids who may want to have something to do, but who aren't necessarily interested in sports,” said Melissa Tzan, president of the Connellsville Recreation Board. “The programs are a great way to get the kids outdoors for the summer to have some fun.”

The camps will be located in different areas throughout the city and will be offered at different times during the duration of the program, which will begin Monday and continue for six weeks.

Tzan said those who are interested do not necessarily have to start at the beginning of the camps to participate.

“We usually get a lot at the last minute and if they can't start the first week they can still take part,” Tzan said, adding that they are still accepting registration for all the camps, except the swimming and diving, which is full.

The new theater camp will take children to the stage in East Park for some instruction in theater basics. The public art project will invite children to add their own touch of creativity to Yough Park.

“They will be creating a glass-and-paint mural on one of the pylons under the bridge in the park,” Tzan said. “At the end of the summer, they will then all sign their work and add their handprints. I think it will be great to see this continue for the next four years to have each side of the pylon covered in their artwork.”

To assure that anyone who wants to take part in the camps, regardless of income, Connellsville Area Community Ministries is offering scholarships to parents to cover the cost of the $25 application fee, said the group's executive director, Chip Rowan.

“This really came to my attention when we were at a ‘Circles' meeting,” Rowan said. “We are stressing to parents to put together positive summer activities for the families, and it was mentioned that many families would find paying the $25 fee a hardship, so I thought there has to be something that we can do.”

Somerset Trust in Connellsville set up a special account, asking customers to donate change. The program has collected more than $900 to date.

“I took the idea of the scholarships to my board suggesting we use that money collected for the summer camps,” Rowan said. “We are being proactive with this. This will give these kids something good to do this summer, and we are always looking for ways to help in the community.”

CACM volunteer Andrea Swan said that she has handed out a few of the scholarship forms but still has several to distribute. Those who qualify for the pantry will also quality for the scholarships.

The Connellsville Summer Camp Program has grown in participation and also has grown in sponsorship.

“A lot of the businesses in the area have really stepped up,” said rec board member Vern Ohler, who added the camps cost the city virtually nothing. “So many kids look for things to do in the summer so this is a really nice thing to have.”

Forms are available at the Health Insurance Store and on Facebook at Connellsville Summer Camps. Children are limited to one camp.

Forms for scholarships are available at CACM. Deadline to apply for the scholarships is Thursday. Call 724-626-1120 for more details.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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