Frisco hosts summer Girls on the Run camp
Girls on the Run fall program
Online registration starts Aug. 19. Visit www.gotrwesterncolorado.org for more information about programs, registration or becoming a volunteer coach
Upcoming Girls on the Run event
Tiaras, Tutus & Tuxedos
Tiaras, tutus, glitter and glam. Ladies put on your sequence, sparkles and skirts. Gentlemen, put on your suit and tie and participate in either a 1-mile fun run or a 5K trail run at the Frisco peninsula. This inaugural event is a benefit for the local Summit County chapter of Girls on the Run, a program that uses running to help prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living.
Race Date: Aug. 17
Race Start: 9:30 a.m. at the Frisco Adventure Park
Race Registration: Registration is open through active.com, day of registration is available at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 17.
Race Fees: $10 for a 1-mile fun run or $15 for a trail 5K. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Summit County chapter of Girls on the Run.
Awards: This event is a fun run and will not be timed. Awards will be given to the best tutu, best-dressed family and more!
The noise level in the Frisco Adventure Park Day Lodge rises as it gets closer to 9 a.m. Young girls between the ages of 8 and 11 separate from parents and greet their friends, holding hands and giggling. Counselors shout over the din and herd the girls outside where they warm up with a game of tag, sprinting over the grass, ponytails flying, cheeks flushed with excitement.
This is a typical morning at Girls on the Run summer camp, which is available for the first time in Summit County this year. The camp is an expansion of the Girls on the Run fall program, which spans 12 weeks during the school year. Girls entering third through fifth grades are welcome to apply.
Girls on the Run is an independent council of Girls on the Run International, which has more than 200 chapters across the U.S. and Canada. It’s a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the goal of mixing physical activity like running with an understanding of healthy living and a confident attitude.
“It’s a fun program and it started combining my passion for running and helping girls just feel confident in who they are and recognize that they’re an important part of their world and can make things happen,” said Jill Henwood, executive director of Western Colorado Girls on the Run, who started the program in Grand Junction 14 years ago.
The summer camp lasts for five days, running 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The girls do running activities such as games, drills and trail runs, then get together for 45-minute lessons and discussions about self-confidence, health and positive attitude.
Girls on the Run is not like traditional running camps, where the focus is on distance or heavy physical exertion.
“It’s not competitive at all,” Henwood said. “It’s more about personal development and growth. It doesn’t matter where you come in. We’ll get you moving and have fun, and hopefully moving a little bit more by the end.”
The lesson and discussion themes of the camp this summer revolve around how girls are portrayed in the media, camp director Paige Hickman said, and coaching the girls through unrealistic expectations found in magazines and on television compared to reality. Other lessons focus on health — proper nutrition, exercising right and maintaining a positive attitude.
“We talk about making good decisions and setting goals and being positive,” Henwood said.
The girls also practice setting and achieving goals each day, which Henwood said helps them to gain confidence and realize their potential. While other sports require skill with balls or other equipment, anyone can run or walk, she explained. “It’s just a good example for the girls, because they can see that yes, if they do work hard and they do make good decisions and if they stick with something and work through it, then they can accomplish it, they can reach a goal.”
Participants aren’t the only ones who get to have a good time. During the warm-up game of tag, the counselors — volunteers from the high school track and cross-country teams — ran alongside their young charges, calling out encouragement and making sure all participated and were included.
“It’s been really fun running with them and seeing them improve themselves,” said counselor Jess Horii. She learned of the volunteer opportunity from her cross-country coach and decided it was something she wanted to do.
“I really like playing with kids and helping them improve,” she said, “and I want to share my passion of running with them.”
While the summer camp will end Friday, the girls can sign up to join the longer fall program, that will enter into its fourth year in the fall. Girls on the Run is available at all six Summit County elementary schools and will be available at Summit Middle School as well.
The registration fee is $50, but if a girl can’t afford that, she can apply for a scholarship to reduce the fee.
“Our mission is to make sure our programs are accessible for all girls,” Henwood said. “Cost is not a factor. We want the girl there more than we want the registration fee.”
Henwood also said that the program is always on the lookout for coaching volunteers. Coaches don’t need to be expert runners, but simply have a passion for working with children and achieving a healthy lifestyle.
“If we can hook you on running, that’s great,” she said, adding that many coaches run their first 5K race along with the girls at the end of the 12-week program.
Overall, Henwood hopes that Girls on the Run, whether at the week-long summer camp or the longer fall program, can teach girls to be confident, positive and healthy.
“I think (running) is a great, lifelong activity,” she said, “but more than anything, Girls on the Run … is one way of getting them to see that they can get better and they can accomplish something.”
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