The harsh winters that annually descend on Alaska bring many challenges, but no matter how low the temperatures plunge you can count on the youth sports and fitness staff at USAG Fort Wainwright continually finding ways for providing the highest quality programs for its youth.
As a Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider, they’ve also created a well-rounded approach that is changing lives. Thanks to a variety of options to choose from, including many sports that are different than the traditional team-oriented ones, youngsters get to enjoy staying active year-round while learning to embrace the Alaskan lifestyle.
It’s this innovative approach for providing memorable experiences for children, no matter the conditions, that helped USAG Fort Wainwright earn the prestigious 2018 Excellence in Youth Sports Award.
For almost two decades, the Excellence in Youth Sports Award has recognized programs that are doing superior jobs of conducting diverse activities with a focus on providing safe and positive experiences for all participants — including children, parents and coaches. Each year hundreds of youth sports programs across the country and on military bases worldwide vie to be an award winner. Developed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine, the first Excellence in Youth Sports Awards were presented in 2000.
“Not only are we keeping our youth active and fit, but we are embracing the lifestyle of our local community,” says Lindsey Lancaster, CYS-FYS Director at Fort Wainwright. “We are giving our youth the chance to experience something they will not get anywhere else in the world.”
In the past year the staff has added a variety of sports and camps, including downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and fat tire biking. Youngsters learned the technical skills of these sports and how to dress properly for the weather while competing in them. They also had memorable experiences participating in these sports at several different locations around the base.
“Living in Alaska brings many new challenges for military families that can be intimidating,” Lancaster says. “Our Youth Sports and Fitness program saw an opportunity to not only help military youth embrace the Alaskan lifestyle, but to also stay active throughout the year.”
And when summer rolls around there is no shortage of fun-filled activities that keep the kids moving and smiling, too.
There was a four-day Adventure Camp that featured disc golf, biking, rafting, lifetime sports, indoor rock climbing and archery. The camp was so popular that the staff held another one two weeks later to meet the demand.
It also conducted a Float Camp, where participants learned how to use kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and rafts, as well as a Rock Climbing Camp that focused on the basic skills of climbing.
Providing innovative sports and activities that keep kids engaged and connected to the Alaskan lifestyle no matter what Mother Nature throws their way is what the dedicated Fort Wainwright youth sports staff is all about.
“Embracing the Alaskan lifestyle has given our program the opportunity to provide unique and location specific sports,” Lancaster says. “The environment we live in gives our program an added pressure to provide excellent programs for USAG Alaska Fort Wainwright. Our Youth Sports and Fitness program has encompassed these challenges as opportunities for our youth. Our staff and volunteer coaches have created a well-rounded program that gives our youth the ability to explore The Last Frontier in a safe and fun environment.”