Capers in the Community returns for another season
Capers in the Community returns for another season
Multi-sport program to go Island-wide this summer
By Corey LeBlanc
Capers in the Community (CITC) is back – and it is bigger and better than ever.
The music will be pumping and the kids will be jumping when CITC visits your Cape Breton community this summer with its top-quality multisport and fun-filled multi-activity programming.
Youngsters will not only have the opportunity to meet Cape Breton University (CBU) Caper varsity student-athletes but also learn skills while playing a variety of sports and games.
So, parents and guardians, it is time for your children to shake off those COVID-19 blues and get back outside while re-connecting with and making friends through Capers' sport.
"This is a must-not-miss for parents – our national best practice program offers children the chance to be inspired in a safe, fun, and engaging environment," Deano Morley – CBU men's soccer head coach and one of the CITC founders – said.
"It is led by fully-trained and certified leaders following national age-appropriate sport models to maximize skill development, and using new stage-appropriate equipment with an unmatched coach to participant ratio."
If that wasn't enough, Morley added that "everything is free," while participants also go home with some cool Caper swag.
Heading into its third season, CITC will also expand this summer.
In its first couple of campaigns, the activity camp for youth ages five to 12, visited communities in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM).
This year, the program – which promotes building physical literacy and fundamental movement skills through playing various sports – will conduct sessions in Victoria, Inverness and Richmond counties.
"We want people from all over the Island to feel like they are part of the CBU family," Morley said.
He added everyone involved with the program is "excited" about having this special opportunity.
Once again – as mentioned - Caper varsity athletes will lead the fun-filled camps, which were launched in 2019 as a partnership between CBU Athletics, CBRM Recreation and Active for Life – a Canadian not-for-profit social initiative created to help parents provide their children with the right start in life through physical literacy development.
"It is all about building healthier and more active communities," Kirk Durning, CBRM manager of recreation, said in a conversation regarding the start and development of the initiative.
Morley added that the partnership and program focuses on "motivating children through sport and physical activity."
"It is just awesome," he said of everyone involved having the opportunity not only to "inspire youth but also pride in our communities."
Noting participation numbers have increased steadily, Jonathan Penny – CBRM recreation sport development coordinator – added that the "success of the program has been super overwhelming."
"It is great to able to provide these opportunities to youth in their backyard," he says.
With the support of organizations – such as Schools Plus, an initiative of the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development that helps with the delivery of programs and services to students and their families – Penny explained that Capers in the Community has been able to provide thousands of youth with multi-sport experiences.
Durning said that the idea for what would become Capers in the Community "really came to life" with the realization that there were challenges in a municipality the size of the CBRM, as far as providing access to youth programs.
"We needed to find a way in which to take them out to the communities," he added.
Struggling with low turnout numbers for their multi-sport programs, CBRM recreation decided to look at what may be the barriers preventing participation; not only access, but also cost.
"We decided to go to them," Penny said, adding that they "invited people to show up."
The community-based sessions were an instant success, attracting more than 200 participants.
"Timing is everything," Durning offered when it comes to forming the partnership with CBU Athletics.
Noting Morley's experience in delivering programs from his time with Sport Nova Scotia, he added that "always being on the same page" has been crucial to developing a "fantastic program."
"Everyone is very passionate," Morley said.
That passion was on full display during the COVID-19 global pandemic when they were able to continue to deliver a modified program because of what Durning describes as the "strength and willingness of the [CBU, CBRM] partnership."
Along with leading camps with smaller numbers – due to gathering limits and social-distancing restrictions – CBU student-athletes produced videos for youth that included challenges, games, and skill development opportunities, which garnered thousands of YouTube views.
"The online program allowed young people to stay active at home," Durning noted.
As for how CITC benefits the Caper student-athletes who participate, he spoke about the opportunities they have not only to develop their leadership skills but also to put lessons learned in their university studies. And, of course, it provides them with much-needed summer employment.
"It is a tremendous experience [for them]," Morley offered, adding that they also receive the "instant reward" of seeing the "impact" they are having on the young participants.
He noted that their experience is also enriched by working with community leaders – such as Penny, a CBU alumnus who graduated from the Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies (BACS) program.
"We are incredibly lucky to have him," Morley said of Penny, who oversees the day-to-day operation of Capers in the Community.
He added his "drive and commitment" are keys to the program's success.
Along with Penny, Morley is a BACS graduate that also shares his lessons in community leadership with the student-athletes involved with the multi-sport initiative.
"We have so many great people involved," Durning said of those who "share their talents and abilities."
As for what is offered during the camps, he explained campers learn techniques and fundamentals for a variety of sports.
"They gain confidence to participate in a sport through the development of fundamental movement skills and physical literacy," Durning added of the foundation established through participation in the program.
Describing it as a "great learning experience," he said there is also a focus – with music playing and a lot of activity – on "creating a fun and engaging atmosphere."
This season – along with the usual multi-sport sessions – Capers in the Community will offer sport-specific camps, in soccer and basketball, for eight to 12-year-olds.
This summer, the program will conduct camps – in the morning and in the afternoon – in different communities over an eight-week period.
Since its launch, the program has connected with thousands of Cape Breton youth and their families.
For more information about the Capers in the Community, visit gocapersgo.ca or www.facebook.com/CBRMActive
Due to provincial COVID-19 gathering limits, registration is required for CITC at cbrmrecreation.eventbrite.com
Capers in the Community Summer Schedule