Camp for a cause
Ryan Summerlin June 25, 2008
Randy Farris, the fun-loving Californian who has made the trek to Park City for 30 years to lead the Park City Recreation Youth Soccer Camp, is back once again this summer and says that his camp will be, "the same as always."
But the thing is, Farris’ camp is much more than your ordinary run-of-the-mill skills and drills kids sports camp.
First off, Farris has found a way to incorporate academic learning into daily soccer drills. Kids are split into two teams on the first day of camp and everything from there on, becomes a competition.
Geography quizzes, spelling bees and math problems are all fair game at Farris’ camp as kids learn how to play the game of soccer while increasing their knowledge.
But the camp also has a deeper meaning. For the past 12 years, Farris has added an element that makes its impact felt far away from the majestic mountains of Park City.
A former camper, Leslie Troutwein and her husband, Vic, are directors in Kids Alive, a Christian-based organization that serves children in many Third World countries.
The Troutweins oversee an orphanage in the Dominican Republic and asked Farris for his help. Farris jumped at the chance and now travels to the area twice a year to help build homes and schools, lead soccer camps and bring much-needed supplies and clothing to the children.
Kids Alive has four sites in the Dominican Republic, including Arrellano, Jarabacoa, Constanza and Monte Plata. Each town has housing developments, orphanages and schools to care for the children.
A kinesiology professor at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., Farris started the youth soccer camps in 1979 with Parkite Bob Martin. At the time, they ran a similar program in Aspen. Since then, Farris has chosen to focus only on Park City and runs the camp on his own while Martin serves as host and provides a home base while Farris is in town.
Each January, Farris takes a group of St. Mary’s students to the Dominican Republic and then returns each July, after the camp is over. Every year at Park City camp, he asks kids and their parents to make donations of money, clothing and equipment to help the orphaned children.
This year, he is headed down with his church, Moraga Valley Presbyterian, and is looking forward to seeing how the children have grown and changed. Last summer, the orphanage rescued five siblings who were being starved to death by their mother and helped them to gain a better life through food, shelter, education and socialization. Farris said that seeing how much the kids had changed only bolstered his belief in the work of KidsAlive.
"To watch the change in them over a year has been phenomenal," Farris said.
He said the program has also helped to change the hearts and minds of many of his students.
"It’s a big impact the first time," Farris said. "It brings a whole new perspective in life. You learn to appreciate what you’ve been given."
But before Farris heads south, he has two weeks of fun planned for Park City children. He has enlisted the help of young Parkites who are now playing college soccer, and together they give the campers a complete experience. Farris is also a former college soccer coach and brings plenty of expertise to the field. The kids participate in least five different activities every day including games, scrimmages, kicking multiple balls into the goal and other fun drills. The camp is open to all youth of all abilities, ages 7-14. Portions of the proceeds from the Park City camp will go towards helping the orphans of Kids Alive. Parkites are also encouraged to make donations.
Farris said that this year the kids are in desperate need of school uniforms. Without them, they are not allowed to attend the Dominican schools. Needed clothing includes khaki pants and skirts, light blue polo and oxford shirts and black leather shoes of all sizes.
It has become a tradition for Farris to take donations from generous kids, parents and community members in Park City to the Dominican Republican children. In past years he has taken piles of clothes, sports equipment and hefty checks to the Kids Alive communities. Farris said that he realizes that they are helping only a small part of the world, but he is still happy to be making a difference.
The Park City soccer camp will be offered July 7 through July 11 and another session will be held July 14 through 18. Half-day sessions are $85. Full-day sessions are $160.All registered participants receive a camp T-shirt, and a portion of the proceeds from this camp will benefit Kids Alive International. To register, visit www.parkcity.org or call 615-5401. To sponsor a Kids Alive child or learn more about the organization, visit www.kidsalive.org.