Karl and Karlos Williams, Taneysa Kelly and Steven Turner came to summer sports camp at Howard Community College to swim and play basketball and soccer.
Karl and Karlos, 10-year-old twin fourth-graders at Worthington Elementary School, came to have a good time. Taneysa, 12, an eighth-grader at Patapsco Middle School, came "just to have something to do."
Steven, 11, a sixth-grader at Harper's Choice Middle School, signed up because "my mother made me."
They didn't come to sit still in a Columbia classroom and learn about nutrition, career opportunities and how to say no to drugs. That's too much like school.
But classroom "enrichment" sessions are required by the federal government, which gave HCC a $47,000 grant to run the five-week day camp for children from low-income families.
Ninety percent of the campers must come from families whose income meets federal poverty guidelines -- $15,024 for a family of four.
"Sports is the hook" to attract campers, said Edward A. Thiebe, director of youth programs for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which administers the National Youth Sports Program. "They love sports."
The NYSP was started in 1968, in the wake of death and destruction caused by racial riots in theWatts section of Los Angeles (1965), Newark (1967) and Detroit (1967).
The idea was to get poor, inner-city children onto college campuses and encourage them to lead healthy lives, be good citizens and think about career possibilities, Thiebe said.
In the HCC classroom, enrichment coordinator Lenata Scott and assistant Albert Merrills divided the campers into four groups. The campers then went through exercises ranging from weighing themselves to answering true-false questions about food.
In one group, the challenge is to apply the nutrition lessons of the previous day's film to assemble a nutritious meal out of cardboard cutouts of food.
One 10-year-old boy put together a lunch of roast beef, baked potato, a cupcake,apple pie, layer cake, ice cream and milk.
"Is that too much?" heasked, deciding on reflection to substitute orange juice for the milk.
Klara Jenkins, 10, a fifth-grader at Running Brook Elementary School, chose a lunch of liver, carrot and cottage cheese salad and apricots. "Mine's for someone who's dieting," she said. "But I hate liver."
Denean Kelly, 9, a fifth-grader at St. John's Lane ElementarySchool, just said no to calorie-consciousness. Her lunch of bread, ice cream, a milkshake, hamburger, baked beans and an apple was "kind of" high in calories, she admitted, but "These are foods I really like."
Each daily 4 1/2-hour camp session begins with box lunches served outdoors, picnic style. The 30-minute lunch is followed by four hour-long sessions of swimming, basketball, soccer, martial arts for boys and aerobic dancing for girls, weight training, tennis and the daily enrichment programs.
The HCC program, which averages about 220youngsters on any given day, is designed to offer "all the activities youngsters should be doing at this stage," said Thomas M. Carbotti,HCC athletics director and coordinator of the summer sports program.
The only community college in Maryland to offer the sports camp for low-income youngsters, HCC won an outstanding rating from the NCAAfor its initial program last year.
The rating meant that HCC's summer camp went beyond the minimum requirements to provide extras suchas innovative programming or exceptional transportation, NCAA director Thiebe said.
"Extras" planned for this year's camp include a trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore and a scuba-diving demonstration.
The NCAA dictates salary ranges for staff members, Carbotti said.
The 16 high school and college student counselors are paid $300 to $500 for the five weeks, the six professional staff members $800 to $1,500 and the three aides $300 to $900. Carbotti is the only unpaid staff member.
Grants for NYSP must be used for direct services such as salaries and transportation, Thiebe said. Colleges that sponsor the camps are barred from charging rent, utilities or similar overhead fees to the program, he said.
The benefit to HCC of the sports camp is "a lot of good community relations, we hope, and doing something for a segment of the community that needs (assistance)," Carbotti said.