Young people will enjoy games and activities while learning important life skills during the National Youth Sports Program this summer atWest Virginia University.

The program begins Thursday, June 26. Camp activities will be in and around the Shell Buildingbeside the Coliseumfrom 9 a.m.-noon, with a free nutritional lunch from noon-1 p.m. Monday-Friday, June 27-July 25. The program is provided at no cost to economically disadvantaged youth ages 10-16 from Monongalia County and surrounding areas.

Its a great chance for youth to learn new skills, get active and away from any couches or video games,said Bruce Wilmot, program director and a faculty member in WVU s School of Physical Education.We provide games that kids can be active with and take back with them to play at home, that need little to no equipment. Its designed to help them learn to stay active.

Participants can register up until the first day of the program, said Wilmoth, who said about 200 young people participate in the program each year. Parents can fill out registration forms from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. in Room 262 of the Coliseum. Additionally, an evening registration will be from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at the Gold Gate of the Coliseum.

Program leaders plan to introduce a new game this year called speedminton, which is like badminton, but played without a net. A full range of fun, fitness activities are offered, from swimming to tchoukball (CHUKE-ball), an indoor variation of soccer played on a cushioned court.

But the program goes beyond simple fields of play. It also stresses study habits and self-esteem.

Thats why I always tell people we arent just a sports camp,Wilmoth said.We also offer academic and nutritional counseling. And we talk about study habits and self-esteemthat ones especially important because good self-esteem keeps young people from falling into the traps of drugs and alcohol.

In its 21st year, the program currently receives no federal or state funding. It is organized through the WVU School of Physical Educationand paid for by city and county funding, as well as private contributors. Monongalia County Schools provides the busing.

Opportunities to help with the program are available; a lifeguard and swim instructors are needed, Wilmoth said. Donors are also sought. For more information about registration, the camp or ways you or your business can donate, call 304-293-3295 ext. 5286.