Chapman's track camp keeps on running

Greg Chapman helps campers work on their starting-line form on Wednesday on the track at North Kitsap High School. - Photo by Trevor Pyle
Greg Chapman helps campers work on their starting-line form on Wednesday on the track at North Kitsap High School.
— image credit: Photo by Trevor Pyle

POULSBO — Greg Chapman stood next to the North Kitsap High School track on Thursday afternoon and lowered his voice to a conspiratorial level.

“Track and field. Even the name sounds kind of boring, to be honest with you,” Chapman said.

It may seem like an odd statement for a track coach to make, but for Chapman, the cross country and mid- and long-distance running coach at Olympic High School, his decision to start a summer track camp was rooted in the question of how to keep kids interested.

“I’d been toying around the idea for a couple of years, ‘How do you make a track and field camp and not make it blah?” he asked as the athletes ended a set of games.

Since Chapman’s track and field camp is ending its fifth year, and since a recent session on Bainbridge Island drew more than 100 participants, and since some of the top high school talent in the county often spends time counseling the younger kids, one would probably have to admit that Chapman has found the answer.

The camp, which serves athletes 6-14 years old with a week of training and a camp-ending meet, finished its last session Friday in Poulsbo.

Chapman and the camp’s participants say the key to its success is to keep the kids moving, and keep them having fun.

The athletes’ day is divided into relatively short segments, during which they learn the basics of track events such as sprints, turbo javelin, triple jump, relays and shot put.

They also play plenty of games, one of which dares the kids to sprint a short distance without being tagged.

Chapman said the games distract the athletes from how hard they’re working.

“They don’t realize how many miles and how hard they’re running,” Chapman said.

The athletes like the games too.

“It keeps me motived and keeps me entertained,” said Poulsbo Junior High student Taysia Weatherbee.

Fellow Poulsbo Junior High student Jason McDougall was looking for a summer camp to participate in — “I like to stay active” — and was glad he picked Chapman’s camp, even though he’s done track programs before.

“This has introduced more things. We didn’t have shot put before,” McDougall said.

The camp’s younger participants are aided by counselors, including some of West Sound’s biggest high school track stars.

The Poulsbo camp’s crew included 800-meter state champion Tim Freeman of Bainbridge Island and state-level hurdler Kolby Hoover of North Kitsap High School.

One camp was held on Bainbridge Island and the second was held in Poulsbo.

Chapman said he has attempted to expand to Bremerton or South Kitsap, but so far, plans haven’t left the ground; in addition, he has to arrange the camps around his schedule, which includes the organization of Whaling Days race in Silverdale.

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