All ages flock to VISD summer rec

June 25, 2011 at 1:25 a.m.

Elijah Caballero tosses  football in the gym at Stroman Middle School, where VISD hosts a summer camp program through mid-July.

Elijah Caballero tosses football in the gym at Stroman Middle School, where VISD hosts a summer camp program through mid-July.

Keandre Blue's cousin woke him up at 7 a.m. - on a Monday - during the summer.

"I said I was leaving him if he doesn't hurry up," said his cousin, Qwashawn Thomas, 10.

Far from being annoyed at the wake-up call, the 9-year-old hustled to catch up with several of his cousins, all of whom were already heading toward Stroman Middle School.

They walk to the school several times a week along with about 300 other kids who have come and gone from the Victoria Summer Recreation program.

It's a hodgepodge assortment of activities inside the two gyms.

At any time, high schoolers may be playing basketball next to youngsters engaged in a game of jacks. Middle schoolers may be throwing dodgeballs beside a group of girls, dolled up and gossiping.

James Dorsett, one of the program's organizers, may call a game of organized kickball, or he may not.

It's the relaxed, come-and-go atmosphere that attracts the kids back to a safe environment during the summer.

That, and the ball games.

"I just thought today was a good day to play basketball," Keandre said. "I just liked basketball my whole life."

If he weren't at the summer recreation program, Keandre said he'd still be playing basketball somewhere. But the program at Stroman gathers together opponents he otherwise wouldn't play.

"I meet people who I haven't seen in a long while, and I get to play with them," Keandre said.

The same is true for the older crowd, most of whom could be found dripping sweat in the un-airconditioned gym, moving away from the board games and younger kids.

Darien Henry, a 16-year-old basketball player at West High School, said he comes to the summer recreation program to play with some of the more skilled players he doesn't find when he goes to the gym at the YMCA.

Taking a break on the bleachers, Darien said he even sometimes teaches the youngsters a thing or two.

"They have the opportunity to play with the older guys, so they have the opportunity to get better," he said.

For the amount and diversity of kids who come in and out of the gym, Dorsett said the staff rarely sees any problems.

They enforce the district dress code, though the rules are admittedly relaxed outside of the school year. After all, it's summer, and everyone's down to just have fun.

"The big kids get along and watch out for the little kids and vice versa. They all kinda look out for each other," Dorsett said.



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