By Emily Drooby
Soccer camp keeps seventh-grader Stefano Cesare active while school is out.
“I get to see my friends during the summer and instead of playing video games and staying inside,” Stefano said.
It’s a game he’s played since he was three years old. He has attended summer camp at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, Queens for several years.
However, during the pandemic, he wasn’t really able to play.
“It was boring because I would always have something to do every week and to not do it, it felt empty,” Stefano said.
Stefano wasn’t alone, sports shut down across the country in 2020. However, now, with things reopening – experts fear athletes won’t come back. During the pandemic, practice hours were down more than 50 percent.
At least 29 percent of parents report their kids are simply no longer interested in playing. That’s according to data by non-profit the Aspen Institute’s Project Play. Participation in team sports was dropping before the pandemic too.
Christ the King’s Associate Athletic Director Joseph Arbitello argues sports are necessary. He sees a difference when kids can’t play.
“I mean I saw a lot of depression,” Joseph said. “I saw young people coming out of their routine, which is a tough thing for a young person to do.”
He’s been a part of this summer camp for years – starting as a camper himself.
Maya Marchan was also a former camper. Now she’s a student-athlete and camp counselor.
“I think you build so many good relationships with your friends,” Maya said. “You get to meet new people. It opens up the world for you.”
The camp attempted to run in summer of 2020 but saw a significant drop in the amount of kids signed up.
But this summer? Their camps are full. Joseph credits social media and in-person recruiting.
Their attendance is at pre-pandemic numbers. With several weeks of camps left and registration still open attendance, that number could go up even more.
Christ the King is just one of many within the Catholic High School Athletic Association in the Diocese of Brooklyn running summer sports camps. It’s a commitment to keeping kids active.