The Program Is Available for K-6th Grade
Large Group warm-up activity
Break-up into station groups (groups are based on age/grade)
Station 1- Fitness Activity
Station 2- Nutritional Lesson
Station 3- Sport Activity
Nutritional Snack Break
Explanation of large group activity
Large Group activity: Team Building, Character Building, Sport/fitness related
Wrap-up and Closure
By: Jamie Evan Bichelman
As the sun shined down on a perfectly crisp 75 degree morning at Detwiler Elementary School, students raced across the wide-open fields and basketball courts in unison and instructors joyfully cheered them on.
When some students got knocked down during the dodgeball-esque Star Wars game, their peers would give them a helping hand back up. Others shared their foam balls, displaying compassion, teamwork, and genuine concern for one another.
Desert Reign Inc. founder Bjorn Berg briefly watched on with a smile before getting right back to helping out eager, passionate young minds enjoy a healthy and fit day on a beautiful Saturday morning at the 2013 Desert Reign Sports & Nutrition Camp.
“It’s amazing, just to see the light turn on in the kids’ heads, the twinkle in their eyes,” Berg, a PE teacher at Lucille S Rogers Elementary School, said. “Just to see how much fun and pure joy that they have, how much energy, the effort they put forth and the different things that they learn, it’s just awesome.”
Kids from kindergarten through fifth grade had the opportunity to learn about portion sizes and how to properly construct a nutritious meal from instructor Jaimee Galloway. Armed with new knowledge, the kids were ecstatic about making better food choices.
“It’s highly important because a lot of our students don’t get a lot of physical activity and nutrition isn’t as important to them,” said Paige Washington, a third grade teacher at Detwiler. “I see what they bring for lunch–a lot of it is just all snacks. They’ll bring hot Cheetos, doughnuts, sugary juices and you see no sandwiches, no meats, no veggies, no fruits, none of that.”
Different stations were set up where groups of students played various games from the volunteers at the camp. Rather than running the kids out until they were tired, instructors put fun, simple twists on the activities to keep the kids engaged and excited throughout.
“A lot of these kids don’t have any structured exercise and all they talk about is playing video games at home,” said fourth grade teacher Amber Mochinski. “These events are important because it shows them that exercise can be fun and when they see adults talking about the gym, they’ll know that it can be game-based exercise.”
The kids got the opportunity to play with Bishop Gorman basketball players Miles Loupe, Deon Whiteside, and Chase Jeter on the playground and learn about what it takes to grow up and be a successful athlete.
“It’s really important to tell them what to eat and how to exercise, because you can’t just sit back and be a couch potato your whole life,” Loupe said. “It’s good to see the kids go out and play. They’re great kids so I think it’s a big deal in our community to give back.”
Though the three basketball stars were “coaches” for the kids on Saturday, the smiles on their faces as they involved themselves in the activities of the day brought them back to their own elementary school days.
“It feels good because as a little kid, I wanted somebody I looked up to, to come to my school and have a camp day for me,” Whiteside said. “ So it’s good to come out here. We’re making friends here and at the same time bringing out our inner kids, and we’re just having fun.”
While Loupe enjoyed the game where kids rolled bouncy balls across the length of the court to knock over giant-sized bowling ball pins, Whiteside had fun watching Jeter get involved with the Star Wars dodgeball game.
“Just seeing the kids have a good time, the fun things that I did as a kid, we’re reliving them now,” Loupe said.
It was the first activity of the day, however, that truly woke up a school full of impressionable minds on a chilly Saturday morning.
Students paired up and danced to catchy songs before the music stopped, then they had to pick an exercise to perform together before roaming around the cafeteria again and choosing a new partner to perform the dance-exercise routine over again.
“Take a moment and think about the simple things that can be done with a limited amount of resources. The basic stuff makes the biggest difference,” Berg said. “ The kids can go home and do different activities because it doesn’t do any good to come over here with fancy technology because they don’t have the resources at home.”
While some students boogied to Psy’s Gangnam Style, others impressively moonwalked and break danced before doing planks, push ups, and other exercises with their partners.
“The whole thing is to create an opportunity for individuals to better themselves,” Berg said. “The more young people that you can reach and get the message of living a healthy and active lifestyle through daily physical activity, the healthier Las Vegas is going to become and the better the community is going to become.”
Though the students responded with fervent passion to all of the games, the most remarkable occurrence of the day was their unbridled enthusiasm for throwing plastic bags in the air and doing as many push ups as they could before the bag floated to the ground.
Indeed, it was the simplicity and innocence of the various games they played with the plastic bags that made them so excited.
“I’m just happy to see them up, moving, and not just sitting in the house playing video games but actually outside enjoying themselves,” Washington said. “They can take some of these games and activities back to their neighborhoods and do it outside as well.”
Just as impressive as the entire school’s willingness to share, show compassion and teamwork was each student’s eagerness for their future.
One student, Cylishea, talked to me about her dreams of traveling the world, from New York to Paris to Tokyo, as we walked to the water fountain after a successful round of dodgeball.
It’s this innocent spirit, according to Berg, that embodies what Desert Reign is about. The idea of paying it forward, and teaching and helping others for the sake of their own happiness, is what drives him to put on these camps.
“It’s all about having Las Vegas be a great place,” Berg said. “It’s about paying it forward and giving back. Somebody did it for us growing up, so let’s keep doing good things.”
With all child participants of the day wearing pink Desert Reign shirts and the instructors wearing grey shirts, a beautiful, palpable sense of unity, camaraderie and togetherness surrounded the school.
“It’s an indescribable feeling to know that you made a difference in someone’s life and that you implemented something that is truly meaningful and more than just five minutes of their day,” Berg said.