Tom Conklin wants to keep kids active during the summer months, so the timing of the seventh annual Jumpstart Track and Field Extravaganza is perfect in many ways.
The event, which is sponsored by the Jumpstart Youth Organization and District 21 Physical Education Specialists, runs from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, May 29 on the campus of Wahtonka High School in The Dalles.
The meet, which features youths from kindergarten-through-fifth grades competing in numerous athletic events, is open to children from kindergarten through fifth grade.
Ribbons are awarded to the top five placers in each age division, boys and girls.
“There are enough races and field events to give every young participant a potential ribbon and a thrill,” said Conklin.
“When kids are finishing their run, the spectators are lined up along the inside field, cheering each runner to finish strong. That makes it really great.”
Conklin and his fellow instructors will provide the children with directions to help them compete in the 50-, 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-meter runs, along with the long jump, javelin and a triple jump demonstration.
Event coordinators are hoping to get athletes from St. Mary’s Academy, Mosier, Dallesport, Hood River, Sonrise Academy and Covenant Christian to join the fun to get the target number of more than 300 competitors.
The aim is to teach all aspects of track and field, so children develop a love early on.
Area athletes do not start competing in track until middle school, so this is a teaser for the youngsters as they try to find their niche in the upcoming years.
Track and field is just one of the many parts of the curriculum that these teachers instruct students on at their respective schools.
From the early stages of the Jumpstart Track event, Conklin and his wife Debbie have changed the format to streamline the operation.
In the first year, that tandem recorded all the scores and distances by hand, placing them in appropriate places.
It was an arduous task to say the least.
As the years have gone on and the event has gained much popularity, more parents, coaches and community members have come out with a focus in helping the youths.
“We look more forward to putting on these types of meets because it takes less effort to pull them off,” said coach Conklin.
“This is largely because of the help from parents and some Jumpstart coaches that help out. Every parent and non-parent enjoys the event.”
Volunteers are still needed to assist in running the event.
As many as eight are needed for the registration table, one for race tag duty, two for pickers, one timer, two for ribbon presentations and two more for the finish board.
For information or to volunteer, call 541-340-9307.
In other youth news, the 21st annual summer hoops camp is scheduled to run in late June at Dufur High School.
The camp is limited to 75 boys and 75 girls from second-through-ninth grades.
For info on this hoops event, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.