Balance 180’s summer camp is always a blast! The days are filled with an abundance of activities that our athletes love! Here at the ten things your kids don’t want to miss at Balance 180 summer camp.
The main focus of Balance 180 camp is learning gymnastics! We have a great team of experienced coaches who are excited to work with our campers. We have campers of all ages and ability levels join us, and we take care to divide the kids into groups according to age and ability so that they are challenged accordingly. From beginners to experienced gymnasts, we are excited for the campers to have a fun and safe place to learn new skills.
2. Obstacle courses and challenges
Campers get to enjoy a variety of obstacle courses and fitness challenges throughout their time at camp! They can swing from the rope, jump on the trampoline and show off their best moves throughout our fun obstacle courses. We also sometimes like to get a little competitive and form teams to do relay races, push up contests, handstand hold contests, and more. Watch out for the coaches who like to show off a bit!
3. Friendships that last a lifetime
Our camp is specifically designed for facilitating friendships! Our tagline and hashtag this year is #SummerofFriendships! All of our activities involve interacting with kids of all ages and abilities and generate plenty of smiles. One of our favorite parts is when our campers do not want to go home at the end of the camp day because they do not want to leave their friends.
Games, games, games! We play so many fun games it’ll make you want to be a kid again! When athletes arrive at camp they get to choose a station with their favorite game (dance party, fort building, and Twister to name a few) and play with a smaller group. Then throughout the day, we have designated times when we play games like four corners, shipwreck and red light green light with all of our campers. Not sure what shipwreck is? Just ask your camper, and you are sure to get a smile and a lengthy explanation.
5. Open gym
Every afternoon our campers are able to practice their favorite gymnastics skills on each event! During this time, the campers get to choose what skills they want to work on and tell the coaches what skills they would like help with learning. The kids LOVE using this time to perfect current skills and master new ones.
6. Dress up day on Fun Fridays!
Each week of camp is themed! This year our themes are, Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Trolls! Every Friday, campers are encouraged to dress up in their best costumes and have the chance to win a costume competition!
7. Coaches performances
Fun fact: Every single one of our coaches is a prior gymnast! Most of them still love to perform and will be doing so at the end of each week of camp! Here is a show they put on at one of our last events…
8. Special guests
Gainesville is full of inspiration and incredible people, and lucky for our campers many of them will be coming out to the gym! In previous summers we’ve had police officers, fire fighters, CPR instructors, karate instructors, dancers, yogi’s and so many more awesome guests join us to tell us about what they do and share their talents.
9. A chance to show off their creative side
Each day the kids do crafts, play games, and learn a part of a special dance that they perform for each other at the end of the week. All of these activities tie into our theme for each week. The kids get to have fun being kids and have the opportunity to show off their creativity through these different outlets. Such great ways to learn and have fun through hands-on and active play.
10. Camper of the day
We have some pretty awesome campers and we love to recognize them. At the end of each day, we pick a camper of the day from each group that the kids are divided into for gymnastics and other activities throughout the day. These campers are chosen for traits like being good friends, being great listeners, working hard, or accomplishing new skills. They also get to be the team leader for the next day and have important jobs with assisting their coach.
What’s better than seeking out plastic toys full of candy, dressing up in your best clothes, and having the chance to win a competition? Easter eggs hunts have a little bit of something for everyone involved. As Easter approaches, we figured it was only appropriate to describe the 5 different type of kids in an Easter egg hunt.
This little one might as well be strolling through the woods on a fine summer day. They are just taking it all in and might pick up an egg or two if it stumbles along their path. This child is more likely to be found looking up into the sky than down for those eggs.
The Hunger Games Candidate
You might mistake this child for one from the 13 districts. They run from egg to egg picking them up with speed only a truly determined child could conjure up. This child isn’t above pushing smaller children out of the way to snatch that golden egg (not recommended).
The Dynamic Duo
These siblings are often found attached at the hip. Pointing out eggs and picking them up together, they are cute as a button. They may be slower than the rest, but should get extra points for teamwork.
Each egg is meticulously counted and placed carefully in the bin. This child is tactical and locates the prime egg hiding spots quickly. They are able to calculate just how many eggs they need to win the competition.
The Sweet Tooth
This child is more interested in the candy than the competition. Sometimes they are found munching on jelly beans as they search for the rest of the hidden sweet treats. This child loves Easter almost as much as Halloween.
Happy egg hunting, everyone! And may the odds ever be in your favor.
Dana and Emily Peoples are just like all sisters. At times they are best friends, laughing and watching TV together. Emily is a proud older sister, often showing her friends photos of her sister and boasting about how wonderful she is. Sometimes they bicker over frivolous things, like who gets the TV remote. They take selfies and dance in the car. They laugh and love each other. But unlike most siblings, Dana has Down syndrome and autism.
Growing up Emily acted like a third parent. She looked out for her sister, always making sure she knew where she was. Eating together and making sure she didn’t choke. Playing together and keeping a watchful eye. Encouraging her to get outside and exercise. Advocating and standing up for her.
“I helped be her voice,” Emily says.
For Emily and her family, Dana is nothing but a blessing. You see they have this family poem that they like to read. It’s called “Welcome to Holland”. It’s a beautiful poem about planning a trip to Italy. You have all of the guidebooks prepared, all the destinations mapped out and activities planned out. But when you land, the stewardess says you’ve landed in Holland. And while it may not have been the trip you planned out, it is just as beautiful and perfect. That’s how Dana’s life has been in the Peoples’s eyes. Maybe they landed in Holland, but what a magnificent place to be.
As Dana got older, her family became a guiding light for other families who had a newborn with down syndrome. They visited the babies and their families in the hospital and provided support. Introducing the families to their new and loving community.
When Emily was a child she had two paths she could have gone down. The first being a path of jealousy and destruction. The second a winding path, full of love and acceptance. Emily choose the second one. Her sister Dana served as an inspiration and Emily volunteered her time at Balance 180, working with athletes with special needs and ultimately choosing to become a pediatric occupational therapist. Emily is currently enrolled in the Occupational Therapy program at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Her sister Dana recently visited Emily in her class and interacted with some Emily’s peers, some of whom had never held a conversation with someone who has special needs.
Emily says, “I can use my experiences to help other kids and families.” She knows what it’s like to live with an individual who has special needs. She knows how every struggle can seem so difficult but every victory so big. She knows the value and the love that children with special needs possess and she knows the greatest secret of all. If we can just slow down and give people with Down syndrome and other disabilities our undivided attention, our lives will undoubtedly be enriched.
Thank you, Emily Peoples for sharing your story and for inspiring us to appreciate the beauty in everyone.
Last Friday, Balance 180 was given the opportunity to perform before the final Florida Gators Gymnastics home meet of the season. Our athletes had a blast and made some memories that will last a lifetime! The University of Florida gymnasts are a huge inspiration to us and we are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to share a bit of the spotlight with some of our hometown heroes. We decided to delve a little deeper to learn more about who the Gator gymnasts are and what goes on behind the scenes at the Gator gymnastics meets.
Here are 10.0 fun facts that you might not have known about Florida Gators Gymnastics:
1. Each year, Florida Gators Gymnastics holds their breast cancer awareness Link to Pink meet. The event is in its 12th season and had the opportunity to honor 75 breast cancer survivors and their families this year.
2. The Gator gymnastics team actually designs all of their leotards from scratch. Some of the designs have even been inspired by an outfit Beyonce wore and even wedding dresses. Nice!
3. The giant inflatable Gatorhead the gymnasts run out of each meet takes a team of about five people to inflate and deflate. The Gatorhead is set up after warm-ups and taken down immediately after introductions. We have heard the record time that it has been deflated in is SIX seconds!
4. Kennedy Baker is not only an amazing gymnast, but she is also a proud member of the Signing Gators Sign Language Club. She has even performed with the group during the National Anthem at a few meets this season. So awesome!
5. The gymnasts come from all over the country – Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, and North Carolina are just a few of the eight states Gators gymnasts hail from.
6. Florida Gators Gymnastics fans set an impressive season attendance record this year, with an average of 8,304 fans at each meet. Go Gators!
7. Not only will you see incredible performances at Gators Gymnastics meets, you might also spot a celebrity. In past seasons UF President Kent Fuchs, ABC’s The Bachelor contestants Luke Pell and James Taylor, National Champions Gators Baseball Captain JJ Schwarz, and Gainesville’s own “Hot Cop” Daniel Rengering have all come out to support the Gators. Starstruck!
8. Rachel Slocum is one of six kids! Her siblings all came out to support her at last Friday’s Senior Night meet. We wonder who she gets her dance moves from?!
9. Doors to the meets may not open until 5:30 PM, but staff from the University Athletic Association and the Stephen C. O’Connell center sometimes get to the O’Dome as early as 7:00 AM to set up signage and prepare for the thousands of fans to arrive.
10. Local gymnastics academies and community groups are sometimes given the chance to perform before the Florida Gators Gymnastics meets, including your very own Balance 180! Check out the highlights from our time at the meet last Friday. So thankful for this opportunity!