Time-out: Athletes to march off to summer sports camps, clinics

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Give me one good reason why your kid should spend long summer days staring at the phone, computer or worse — binge watching on Netflix.

If they are bored or can’t amuse themselves, call your local parks and recreation center to find your kid a camp — and stop paying them to mow the lawn or take out the trash.

In any town or city, high school coaches or recreation departments will be offering a variety of summer sports camps or clinics at reasonable prices for the opportunity to get off the couch and play any sport under the warm sun.

It is a good excuse to keep a kid moving and extricate them from the enticing bonds of technology. Some studies are calling it brain fracking and that dependency seems to be growing at the speed of WiFi.

These programs also act as feeder systems for high school sports, and serious athletes who want to stay on top of their game often participate in summer clinics.

“Yes, Mt. Blue field hockey usually does a youth clinic for grades 3-8 at the end of June,” Mt. Blue coach Jody Harmon said. “This year, June 26 to 28.

Harmon said camps are a great way to introduce the sport to children.

“It is a great way to connect with interested players and to teach the skills of the game to the youth,” Harmon explained. “Yes, we offer the clinics at a very low cost to the participants, making it available to all. We also involve our high school players to coach and mentor the youth, which is a win-win for all involved.”

Conducting a field hockey clinic is a pleasure for Harmon.

“The joy in watching new players learn a new skill and get excited about it,” Harmon said. “The younger players look up to the high school players, the connections and relationships that are formed is very special for both the teacher and player.”

It’s a healthy way to beat the summer doldrums.

Mt. Blue girls’ soccer and basketball coach Fred Conlogue is busy of most of his summer conducting camps.

“I do various camps all summer at UMF (University of Maine at Farmington), soccer, etc. …” Conlogue said. “I do one for my program of basketball in July.”

Conlogue will tell you sports camps are crucial to playing a high school sport.

“Those who put the time into extra opportunities are usually the top players in program,” he said. “Kids who are involved do well in school, do well in community life as well. Developing relationships with your future athletes only helps when coaching them in high school”

In my day (here it comes), mom threw us out of the house and onto the hot city streets on Saturday mornings, warning us: “I don’t want to see any of you until noon.”

Hours of watching cartoons and laying on a couch was verboten in our household, and my mom meant business.

TV was not a babysitter for Mom, who shared the same opinion as then President Kennedy’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Newt Minow, who called television “a vast wasteland” nearly 60 years ago.

Nothing has really changed since Minow made that comment, and time never swayed my mom, who called TV the Idiot Box.

We rode our bikes, organized pick-up games or headed to a park. Pop Warner filled the void in the warm August sun, and there was always Revere Beach. There were summer camps, but sports clinics were not popular, yet.

My father, who was high school baseball coach for 43 years, coached American Legion and Catholic League Baseball teams in the summer to bolster Revere High School’s baseball club. He never conducted a clinic in his life.

There was no lure of the internet or social media. There were five TV stations in the Greater Boston area and cable didn’t come to our home until 1980.

How did we do it!

We had running water and electricity and somehow found a way to survive without slipping into oblivion on Facebook or tweeting our every thought.

Gregg Loewen, a Saskatchewan transplant, had the great idea of starting the first five-day Western Maine Spring Break Wrestling Camp in Farmington during April vacation.

It was a smashing success thanks in part to inviting 1996 Canadian silver medalist Guivi Sissaouri, who traveled from Montreal to teach Maine’s young aspiring wrestlers.

But who wouldn’t want to learn from an Olympian who copped a silver medal?

So, mom and dad, make the call, get your wallet out, unplug the computer for your child’s sake and enroll your kid in a sports camp.

Canadian World Champion and Olympian Guivi “Gia” Sissaouri explains a hold to a pair of wrestlers at the Western Maine Spring Break Wrestling Camp at the Cascade Brook School in Farmington on Friday.Spruce Mountain coach Zachary Keene speaks with his players during a summer-camp practices in Jay last year.

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