Lincoln Haines was one of the more than 20 kids who came out Monday at the Telstar track despite the less the ideal weather conditions. Photo courtesy of Mary Scanlon.

BETHEL — Heavy rain did little to deter the more than 20 kids who turned out for the inaugural day of the Bethel Rec Youth Track and Field Program Monday morning. The hour and a half long program, which will run the next five weeks on Mondays and Wednesdays starting at 8:30 a.m., is all about getting kids outside and active and teaching them some of the fundamentals of track and field, an activity Bethel Rec Director Mary Scanlon thinks is gaining popularity in many Maine communities.

“I think it’s becoming popular between the Olympics and by it being an easily social distanced activity,” Scanlon said.

The program is being primarily run by volunteer coach Colleen Raymond, an experienced runner and coach of the Telstar Middle School Track and Field team this past spring. She’s excited for the opportunity.

“I am very pleased to be a part of this program.  I am happy to share my joy of running with the young kids.  Running is one of the few sports where you don’t need much equipment or other participants,” Raymond said. “You can run anywhere, any weather and it makes you better at any of the other sports that you want to do.  I hope to make running fun, not a chore like some kids feel it is.”

Raymond will have some assistance teaching the kids, with local high schoolers Julia Head, E.B. Hoff and Myles Lily volunteering some time to help Raymond out.

Kids ages six to 14 are eligible to participate and encouraged to register, which can be done by visiting bethelmaine.org, clicking first on the community tab and then the recreation tab where it will show a link to signup online. Registration costs $10.

Of the 20 kids that came Monday for the program, Scanlon said with the exception of a few, most had never been on a track before.

Over the next five weeks Raymond said they will loosely follow the Pine Tree State Track and Field summer lesson plans which many rec programs statewide use. Kids will get to practice running certain distances (length will depend on age of child), standing long jumps, javelin throws and shot put. However, the shots and javelins are being replaced by softballs and turbojavs (three-foot long nerf type rocket with hard plastic and rubber tip) respectively.

“We will teach them the proper form, dynamic stretches and how to start and finish a race,” Raymond said
Raymond also said depending on the age, and interest of the parents, there is an optional regional meet the kids can attend.

Both Raymond and Scanlon hopes the youth program eventually builds into a feeder program for the middle and high school.

The last day of the track and field program will be Wednesday, July 28.

If people have questions about the program, they can contact Scanlon at [email protected]

In the spring, more than 180 children participated in sports offered through the rec program.

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