Kids Club Olympics teaches teamwork, friendship
Leadership, teamwork, communication, gummy bears? Those are a few things the Kids Club of Jefferson County learned about during their three-week Olympic program.
This was the fourth year the Kids Club held their highly popular Olympic program, competing in both sports and trivia, while learning about different countries.
The kids were divided into four countries, USA, Mexico, Germany and Japan. Members and Olympic drop-in kids are not just divided into teams randomly, but put on teams equally. Everyone from kindergarteners to eighth graders had to learn how to become one unit, one team.
No sibling or members who were related were on the same team in order for kids to make new friends, while working together with other kids that might not know each other that well.
The program started four years ago, when the real Olympics were going on at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Kids were watching athletes compete in different sporting events and then trying to emulate the same activities during the program.
Members and staff saw how well the program helped kids get out of their comfort zone, attempting new things, with new people, enjoying new activities. That motivated the club to make the Kids Club Olympics an annual thing.
This year, the first two days started with track and trivia. Kids Club wanted to make sure the kids were not only getting active with different sports, but testing their learning skills on facts about different country.
Teams would gather in the lunchroom during trivia time, learning a small lesson about one specific country that day. After the lesson, they moved on to a quick activity, drawing the Mexico flag, making green German hats out of paper and much more. When the activity ended, the test and quiz came, working as a team to come up with the correct answers.
"I have done the Olympics all four years," said Katie Puddie, of team Japan. "I think it is fun and I like the sports part. I learned that the U.S. flag has 50 stars, which stands for the 50 states. We do Olympics to learn about teamwork, new things about countries."
Kids Club Olympic teams would earn points for top finishes in both the sporting events and country trivia. Every day, each team would run to the scoreboard, looking to see if their points were catching up to the leading teams or if their team was still on top.
"This was my first year in Olympics," said Evelyn Montgomery, of team Germany. "It was very fun and exciting. I don't know if I will be here next year, but I think I would want to do it again. I liked learning about the countries. I think Kids Club does this so kids can have fun and learn to love it. I really liked gymnastics because the balance beam was really fun. I knew I could do it."
The sports started with track and field, kids running, jumping and cheering each other on. Next, were water activities at the Madras Aquatic Center, which has allowed Kids Club to use their facility during the Olympics since the very beginning in 2016.
Kids competed in events such as fastest down the water slide, farthest off the rope swing, relays and ending in a synchronized swimming contest.
The second week was soccer outside in the heat and volleyball in the gym. Some members don't like to play sports, so to encourage the youngsters, teams receive extra points if the entire team participates.
During the third and last week, the kids tested their gymnastics skills, making balance beam, individual and team routines. Basketball was the last sport before announcing the overall winning team, which made a trip to a Bend trampoline park to celebrate their victory.
"This is my third year at the Olympics," said Pablo Solis, of team Japan. "My favorite thing is the sports. I like that it is very competitive. I learned that there is a lot of words that we use now, that came from Mexico like rodeo and lasso."
"We do this so kids can start to know each other and become friends," he said. "It is cool to see some people really try, even when they didn't really want to. In volleyball, someone didn't want to serve, but the team encouraged her and she tried. Same with basketball, kids didn't want to play, but still went out there and played even though they couldn't get the ball up to the hoop."
After everyone was done with the program, kids left with a free T-shirt, with the Kids Club logo on the front and their country flag on the back. Several first-time participants were very hesitant at the beginning, but were sad when the last day of Olympics arrived. The club understands that even though one team wins, the values and lessons learned by every team last a very long time.
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