Sporting the right skills

School district offers affordable, instructive summer program


It’s the time of year when many kids have been shipped off to camp for the summer. But the cost of a recreational summer getaway can be prohibitive, and the East Meadow School District offers an alternative: a local, affordable program for children to learn sports from qualified instructors.

On July 1, the Creative Arts Program of East Meadow, known as CAPE, kicked off its Summer Sports Program, and dozens of kids lined the playing fields outside W.T. Clarke High School, looking forward to spending a week honing their skills in the sport of their choice.

The three-week program comprises eight camps, each one week long, for children who will begin sixth through eighth grades in the fall. Each camp is overseen by a New York State Public High School Athletic Association-certified coach. The district has hosted the program since the mid-1990s, and a camp costs $65.

During the program’s first week, baseball, tennis and field hockey camps are held concurrently. The second week offers flag football, girls’ lacrosse and project adventure, a series of physical and mental challenges that promote cooperation and teamwork. The final week, beginning July 15, features volleyball and basketball.

Twenty to 35 children signed up for each camp this year, according to Mike Meittinis, the camp coordinator and an adaptive phys. ed. teacher in the district. “[The coaches] teach them the right way to play the sport,” said Meittinis, a 1997 Clarke graduate who has coordinated the camps since 2007. “It’s not just a rec program. They’re getting good instruction.”

Each day’s program runs for approximately 2½ hours, with the majority of the time spent on instruction, followed by a scrimmage that allows campers to try out their new skills. On July 5, the Herald spent the day at the camp, observing the action up close.

The first stop was the fields outside the Leon J. Campo Salisbury Center in Westbury, near Clarke High. About 20 kids stood in the outfield grass, learning the proper way to catch a fly ball. The instructor was Will Palmer, a guidance counselor in the district and a former Hofstra University baseball player. “They’re getting good-quality coaches that played the sport in college,” said Meittinis.

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