NORTH AUGUSTA — Runs, hits and errors are still a part of the vocabulary, but high fives and hugs are few and far between this week in Riverview Park, with a pair of sports camps being held this week.
Baseball and cheerleading camps are both summer fixtures at the park, but this year's events are being handled with a variety of precautions due to the coronavirus.
Local options, in terms of sports camps, normally include football, tennis, basketball, baseball, soccer, cheerleading and more, sometimes in association with local schools, but pickings have been relatively slim this season, with health-related fears dominating the news.
"I was worried about having too many kids out there," said one local football coach whose program normally plays host to a camp.
A local basketball coach gave a similar description: "We will not be hosting any type of ... basketball camp this summer, especially with everything going on with the virus."
North Augusta City Council member Pat Carpenter, largely known as one of the community's most enthusiastic advocates for youth sports, was in camp mode this week (Monday through Thursday), leading her annual cheerleading camp, with about 54 girls on board for three hours of daily, indoor instruction at Riverview Park Activities Center.
Carpenter's event ran simultaneously with a baseball camp led by Kevin Lynn, North Augusta High's head baseball coach, with 66 boys enrolled.
Lynn, referring to his campers and instructors, said, "There's times when they're all near each other, but it's usually just in passing and they're going to their next station."
Stations, in this case, include one for infield drills, another for outfield work, a third for pitching and another for running bases. Four batting cages are also part of the mix.
Carpenter, guiding the cheerleading camp, said her 2020 event does not include its traditional craft component, which would have kids taking about an hour each day to produce a craft item relating to the camp's annual theme.
Gymnasium-style mats are nowhere in sight, and "building" – with kids lifting each other and standing on each other's shoulders – is not a part of this year's mix, she confirmed.
"This year, we have some chants and cheers and a dance. That way, they're doing that individually. They don't have to really touch anybody or be up close," Carpenter said.
Lynn, assessing the baseball situation, said he noticed that Riverview Park, in recent weeks, had been playing host to a variety of baseball teams and the parents and other boosters who accompany them, so the idea of holding a camp made sense.
"I just felt like the people were waiting for the camp anyway, since I usually have one around this time, but being able to have all these fields at my disposal, it helped. You have more of an opportunity to get one-on-one attention, spread out on different fields."
Extra acreage, he said, also means kids in one age group are not lumped in with another age group, causing friction in terms of size and game development.
Rick Meyer, director of the North Augusta Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, has helped guide the sports traffic. "We had to cancel a bunch, but .. Pat felt comfortable doing her cheerleading camp, and then, the baseball camp's outside. We've tried to limit anything inside."
Chris Tully, North Augusta's tennis director, led a camp June 22-25, and had 49 participants – an overwhelming situation that led to Tully taking six counselors on board to help him handle the load.
"All I did was put in on my Facebook page – the Riverview tennis page," he recalled. "It went great. We had a big time."
This summer's situation, he confirmed, caught him off guard. "There's just nothing else to compete with. There's no church camps. There's nothing going on. I think these parents are desperate to get the kids out."