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Cougar Kids Camp helps faculty and staff meet summer work demands

Participants at Cougar Kids Camp perform a skit in 2019.
Cougar Kids Camp offers a variety of fun activities. These participants performed a skit during a session in 2019.

With summer advising kicking into high gear, Amanda Morgan in Academic Success and Career Services has a busy couple of months ahead. One thing Morgan, the center’s associate director, is not stressing over is what her two daughters will be doing while she attends to the demands of her job — they’ll be at Cougar Kids Camp.  

Morgan said being able to drop her children off at the camp on the Washington State University Pullman campus, where they will be well cared for and have an enjoyable experience, gives her peace of mind so she can focus on her work. 

“Knowing they will be participating in exciting and fun activities also helps me feel less guilty about not being able to take off from work to do cool things with them,” she said. “They are getting a great summer experience at Cougar Kids Camp.”

Building skills for a lifetime

“Amanda Morgan’s daughter, Savana, posed with one of her favorite group leaders last summer.” 

Cougar Kids Camp is known in the Pullman community for its convenience, flexibility, and quality, said Matt Shaw, assistant director for competitive sports and youth programs in University Recreation. The camp is open to children 5 to 12 years old and consists of seven weekly sessions that run throughout June and July (the first session started on Monday, June 13). It is based in the Student Recreation Center, which makes it especially easy for faculty and staff to drop off and pick up their children.

Parents can choose to sign their kids up for half days (mornings or afternoons), full days (8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.), for certain weeks, or for all weeks the camp is offered. Visit the University Recreation website to see the full schedule, learn more about the camp, and register.

The camp is designed around weekly themes such as fitness, exploring, superheroes, and pirates — topics all kids find fun and interesting. Shaw noted one common misconception is that the camp focuses a lot on playing sports. While some time is devoted to sports, the kids do many other activities such as practicing how to work as a team on the challenge course, arts and crafts, learning how to live healthy lives, and developing camping and hiking skills.    

“We try to introduce the kids to things that may be new and unfamiliar to them at first,” Shaw said. “Our goal is to help them develop an appreciation and love for a variety of activities and skills they can use throughout life.”

Camp leaders go above and beyond

Teaching and encouraging the campers every step of the way are 18 group leaders and 4 camp coordinators — all of them WSU students. Shaw said each student goes through extensive training to meet standards set by the American Camp Association. The training not only covers first aid and how to keep the kids safe, but also how to work effectively with children of varying ages.

Morgan said her daughter formed a quick bond with the group leaders. For a skit activity last summer, one of the counselors made a mermaid costume for her daughter, who was “over the moon” about it. On another day, her daughter boasted that she got to throw a cream pie at the group leaders.  

“I am so impressed with the Cougar Kids Camp staff,” Morgan said. “I feel they often go above and beyond their regular duties to connect with the kids in fun and meaningful ways.”

Shaw said his student staff has spent the last few weeks putting final touches on this summer’s activities and are excited to welcome both new and returning campers. 

“We are glad to be able to serve the community in this way,” Shaw said. “We value the trust parents give in us to work with their kids and we take it very seriously.”

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