2022 CHAMPS campers gather for a group photo to kick off day one.

CHAMPS Camp returns to USask

After a two-year hiatus during the pandemic, CHAMPS - Children's Healthy-Heart Activity Monitoring Program in Saskatchewan is welcoming back 30 campers to a week-long activity camp that allows children who have congenital disease from across Saskatchewan to play with others kids their age without fear.

By Alyssa Wiebe | Kinesiology Communications

“It is amazing to be back in person this year! There were huge smiles and hugs as the campers reunited in person after not seeing each other for two years,” said Dr. Marta Erlandson, professor in the College of Kinesiology.

Every summer the University of Saskatchewan campus becomes home to a vast collection of day camps for Saskatoon children enjoying their two-month hiatus from school. CHAMPS gives them an environment where they can not only be monitored, but one that hopes to allow them to learn their ability to play sports or participate in physically demanding activities.

“The connections that the children have made with each other at previous camps was in full display this morning as they excitedly caught up on each other’s lives. They have grown so much since we last saw them and the new campers were able to meet and see older children with heart issues.”

Campers are given the opportunity to take part in swimming and climbing the rock wall, some activities they typically shy away from. The goal is to provide them with new physical activity components and skills each day that they can take back to their everyday lives and participate in those activities comfortably.

On top of the physical activity, participants are also introduced to nutritional classes led by students and dieticians on healthy eating and the positive impacts it can have on their heart.

The last two years were tougher on campers as they were only able to attend the camp virtually.

“It was good to keep the programming going during the pandemic, but the virtual environment did not allow for the same social connection for the children, especially the younger children. It was difficult to get them to engage with each other online.”

The camp will run until Friday, July 15 and look forward to what 2023 holds.