Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Olympic Training Camp

Following the success of last year's Super Hero Training Camp, my coworker, Corinna, and I decided to do a similar program to correspond with this year's reading club theme (as well as the upcoming Olympic games). It was SO MUCH fun. Presenting... Olympic Training Camp!

We came up with 9 "Olympic type" events:

1. Passing of the Torch (aka Opening Ceremonies)
2. Balance Beam
3. Hurdles
4. Target Practice
5. Long Jump
6. Super Drill
7. Cross Country Skiing
8. Triathlon
9. Passing Out the Medals and Certificates (aka Closing Ceremonies)

While it got a little wild in the room (what can you really expect?), it was a total success. The kid's LOVED this stuff!

First, we gave each kid a score sheet, downloadable here, so we could have them all keep track of their progress. (Even though we gave them all 10's for everything that required judgement and scores like "green" and "orange" for things that required actual aim or agility.) I think the kids may have caught on to the fact that the score sheets were sort of bogus, but they were a fun way to keep track of the events anyway. Plus, I think they contributed to making it feel slightly more like a competition.

Here are more details on each event:

Passing of the Torch

First, we explained the details of the (real Olympic) opening ceremonies a bit to the group. Then we had them run a relay around the room with our homemade Olympic Torch. They got in a line, then one at a time, ran around the perimeter of the room, passing the torch to the next kid as they returned to the start. They got silly and started tossing the torch and we all giggled about throwing fire. Ah, making light of fire... good times, good times.

Here's a close up of the awesome torch we had, thanks to our super-artistic page:

It's made from two toilet paper rolls taped together and construction paper. I really can't comment any further on the making of the torch as our page is more or less a craft wizard.

Balance Beam

Our first "real" event was the balance beam, made from a wood beam taped on each end to a stool. It was kinda wide and really didn't require much balancing skill. In fact, it was the same beam we used last year for our Lava Pit Crossing so, to make things slightly less boring, we told the kids to do a pose when they got to the middle of the beam, and that it was that pose, not their ability to walk across, that they'd be scored on (a 10, of course). This was fun, but I think the kids felt sort of silly doing it. Also, they were all a little nervous about the beam breaking under them--rightly so, probably, though all was fine.


Visually, I think the hurdles were one of the highlights of the program. They just looked irresistible. Look at them set up in all their lime green glory:

They were made with pool noodles, these traffic cones from Oriental Trading, and a fair amount of duct tape. In fact, not only were the noodles duct taped to the cones, but the cones were also duct taped to the floors. We alternated high and low to keep it challenging, but not too challenging.

We let the kids get across however they wanted, either over or under, and we timed them. Then we had them write their times on their score sheets. It was fun and there was justttt the right amount of competition.

Target Practice

This was an easy one for us because we already owned this game from past events. In fact, did you know that both Super Heroes and Olympians train using the same target for practice? True story. The Tar Grip Toss Game is from S&S and can be purchased here.

This was one of the events where we had the kids write a color on their score sheets. I think every one of them scored either "red" or "orange." It was very scientific.

Long Jump

This was the other event where the kids wrote colors on their score sheets. The Long Jump was fun, basically free, only took a few minutes to set up, and was well-liked! Score! We simply used masking tape to make lines (somewhat arbitrarily) on the floor and bam--the Long Jump was born!

Super Drill

The Super Drill was our take on football's Tire Drill and a repeat event from last year. We used pool noodles taped into circles instead of tires so there'd be less height to leap and less chance of injury (also, um, they're cheaper). The kids enjoyed hopping through the circles in different ways, and this year there was an added challenge: the pool noodles weren't all taped to each other. So, as the kids went, some of the noodles sort of shifted or lifted up around them. Lots of giggles! Everyone gets a 10!

Cross Country Skiing

I got the idea for Cross Country Skiing from Mrs. Bretz Music Room blog. I needed one more event and, when I saw this, I knew it was the one. Of course, we changed it a little. I made a bunch of skis pretty easily from oaktag and, once we were in the program, we decided to up the competition and have the kids go two at a time and race each other.

So two raced, then everyone kept racing the winner until we had an overall champion. Here is where everyone's competitive spirits really came out! They had to get across the room, touch the wall, and have both their skis still under their feet--the last proving to be the biggest challenge for these eager beavers. It was a fierce competition and there was even cheering from the sidelines!


Running, biking, and swimming. Those were the events of the triathlon--the last event of the program. First, we had the kids run in place for one minute. Next, we had them get onto their backs and do the bicycle (as seen above) for one minute. Then last, it was time for swimming.

The kids had been eyeing the pool from the second they walked in the room, yet when the time finally came time to use it, everyone was pretty shy and squeamish. We used the kiddie pool that we've had a while. It's the same one we used last year for our Lava Pit Crossing (and used to use for catching rubber ducks at our summer carnival). For the swimming portion of our triathlon, we told the kids to take their shoes off, then walk through the water and also move their arms to pretend that they're swimming. Most of them opted out of the arm part. A few asked if they could leap over the pool (uhhh, no).

This was surprisingly not a huge mess. Here's the event in action:

Passing Out the Medals and Certificates

Upon completion, everyone got one of these medals from Oriental Trading, one of the certificates seen above (both designed and signed by yours truly), a water bottle, and a hearty handshake. Then we took the group picture seen at the top of these post and sent them all on their merry ways! Overall, an absolute success!

What worked least: The overall level of chaos in the room grew and grew throughout the hour, coming to head just before it was time to send the kids home. It was annoying, but also, it's irrational to expect a group of kids this age to be completely calm and quiet when presented with a room of obstacles like pool noodle hurdles, the long jump, and a kiddie pool filled with water. So while it was a little crazier than ideal, it was totally fine. Really, they were pretty good kids.

What worked best: The hurdles and the long jump were probably the two most successful events of the day. Not only were they really visually appealing, but they were the most fun too!

Click here to view all the pictures from this program!

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