Fun for little athletes

Sports Blitz Camp at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge doesn't look like a typical sports camp.

Sports Blitz Camp takes a step back; tailored for 4- to 7-year-olds with little to no experience playing sports. It's one of the center's most popular summer programs.

"There aren't a whole lot of sports camps for this age group," camp director Andy Chidester said. "There are a lot of different skill-specific development camps for older kids, but not many focus on beginners like this one does."

For the past seven years, Chidester's camp has run through Assist Athletics, a Pasadena company he manages. The organization seeks to get kids out and active by teaching them the basics of many sports; giving them the skills to play on their own at home or at school with friends.

The camp carries out the company's mission. Chidester dubs it a "three-hour recess," giving youngsters what's best described as an appetizer combo of several sports activities in just a week.

"The camp really emphasizes learning to play in a group while teaching them the different skills," said Kate Penniall, project assistant for the Community Center. "It isn't very fast paced but it shows them the rules and how to be good sports."

Soccer, baseball and basketball are the "big three sports" focused on by Chidester. He also works in a few sports like football, along with other camp-favorite pastimes such as kickball or dodge ball.

Campers learn basic concepts about each sport, as many are experiencing them for the first time.

Alexandra Schawlbach, an 8-year-old camper, attended the camp last week. She had never played flag football before Sports Blitz, but now it's her favorite sport.

The Community Center hosts three week-long sessions of the camp over the summer. Their final summer session ended Friday.

Violeta Azizyan's 6-year-old son, Narek, attended the camp's last session.

"It's a fun place for kids," Azizyan said. "It's a nice summer break to cut them off from the TV and other electronic gadgets. I see him physically active, having fun and making new friends."

Chidester's goal is just that, to encourage kids to stay active and outside playing sports.

"I want these kids to get out of the frame of mind that you need to have a coach and be in a structured setting to have fun playing sports," Chidester said. "They can get together in their neighborhood or at recess and do this at home."

Those interested in signing up for Sports Blitz don't need to wait around for next summer. Mini-Sports Blitz camps are hosted throughout the school year starting Sept.14. For more information, visit the Community Center website at, or call (818) 790-4353.

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