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home : sports & recreation : sports & recreation September 25, 2017

7/3/2017 1:08:00 PM
Camp draws record numbers
Great Northwest Cross Country running campers perform a lip-synch as part of the camp Olympics Thursday evening. photo by Charlie Kanzig
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Great Northwest Cross Country running campers perform a lip-synch as part of the camp Olympics Thursday evening. photo by Charlie Kanzig

By Charlie Kanzig

The fourth edition of the Great Northwest Cross Country Running Camp drew a record number of participants to the six-day training event sponsored by Sisters Park & Recreation District and directed by Josh Nordell.

Seventy-five runners aged 8-17 spent the week building teamwork, rafting rivers, competing, laughing, and, of course, running.

Participants from throughout Oregon, and two from Idaho, made their homes in big tents on the athletic fields at Sisters High School.

They ventured throughout the area during the week.

A run up the road to Round Lake on the first day culminated in a team contest on the lake that featured eight to 10 runners in a canoe without paddles, resulting in plenty of wet fun.

Another day included a 1.6-mile assault up to the top of Hoodoo that featured 1,035 feet of elevation gain. Sisters High School entering freshman Ethan Hosang not only reached the top first, but broke the previous record. Hosang was one of two Outlaws at the camp. The campers also visited Smith Rock and the Madras Aquatic Center.

Woven into each day were "Olympic" contests among camp teams that included a water relay in which Dixie cups were filled with water, carried above runners' heads to determine who could fill a bucket first. Other events included a corn hole competition, tug-of-war, a lip sync and a running relay. Points earned from each event resulting in one of the eight teams declared the overall winner at the conclusion of the camp.

"The camp is to allow these runners to have a great week of training, but also to be a little competitive along the way as well," said Nordell.

Guest speakers presented each evening after dinner covering topics from shoes to strength training as well as the mental aspects of running.

Camp counselors who helped direct many of the daily activities and supervised the camp at night included Sisters graduates Patrick Krevi, Dyut Fetrow, Katelyn Meeter, and Brandon Pollard as well as college students from Corban University and George Fox University.

"Our camp counselors were of the highest quality again this year, which makes all the difference for enhancing the experiences of the participants," said Nordell.

Coaches from Newport and McMinnville high schools, as well as Sisters Middle School track and Sisters High School swim coach Bryn Singleton, assisted Nordell. Executive Director Liam Hughes oversees camps like this one for Sisters Park & Recreation District.  

Tom Swinford, Newport's coach, has brought team members to the camp since its inception.

"I love the coast, but I also lived in Burns and there is nothing like the clear skies, mountain air and wide open landscape of this part of the state," he said. "Many of my runners have never been on this side of the mountains, and I think that for them to really appreciate their state they need to spend time over here."

Singleton added, "It's just such a fun week. The kids get exposed to a lot of different types of running and they love the games and contests that we organize."

Cheylah Volkers, a top runner from Melba, Idaho, whose uncle lives here in Sisters, came to the camp for the second year because she feels that it really kick-starts her more serious summer training.

"I take a little time off after track and sort of start back to training just before this camp, and after a week here I am more ready to get back into some more intense training for the fall cross-country season," she said.

Volkers is one of the top 2A runners in Idaho.

Nordell sees the camp continuing to grow.

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