My Day at Camp: Arizona Sunrays Supercamp

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Arizona Sunrays, Supercamp, summer camp, Phoenix, Arizona, kids
Liz and Lucy Petroff, 6, having fun at Arizona Sunrays Supercamp. Photo courtesy of Liz Petroff.

I’m on a roll with My Day at Camp.

I first stepped up to the plate at the Diamondbacks Baseball Academy earlier this summer with my son Jack, and that experience was a grand slam.

Now it was time to enjoy a day with my 6-year-old daughter Lucy and her latest passion: gymnastics! I haven’t woken up this anxious in a long time.

First, I need to paint the picture.

On a good day, when I’m not slouching, I stand about 5-foot-6. I’m not tall, but my inseam is not proportional. I have long legs, and stretching down to touch my toes is something I’ve never been able to do. I’ve always known my limits.

Growing up, I mastered the standard cartwheel and handstand, but gymnastics was not in my cards. As a high-school senior, I did manage to (finally) earn a spot on the cheer team. But even then, it was like teaching an old dog new tricks; performing a back handspring in a routine was just not going to happen.

So, you can see why I woke up with just a hint of anxiety the morning of camp. The thought of injuring myself or being sore was really on my mind. It also didn’t help my nerves that Cultural Club’s, “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” came on the radio while I was driving. Seriously, when was the last time anyone heard that song, and what radio station was I listening to?

Lucy and I arrived at Arizona Sunrays Supercamp in Phoenix just before 8:45 a.m. It was “Splish Splash” theme day, so everyone (including staff) was wearing swimwear. We joined the “Tiger” group and quickly met the other campers.

Now, it was time to stretch (something I knew I had to take seriously) and introduce ourselves. I stated my name, classified my age as “a mom” and proudly admitted black olives were my favorite pizza topping. And just like that, I was a gymnast for the day.

RAK calendar editor Liz Petroff braves the balance beam at Arizona Sunrays Supercamp. Courtesy of Liz Petroff.
RAK calendar editor Liz Petroff braves the balance beam at Arizona Sunrays Supercamp. Photo courtesy of Liz Petroff.

Once our muscles were awake and loose, we warmed up on an obstacle course. This circuit included walking on short bars, performing somersaults and cartwheels and a long walk across an elevated balance beam.

Then, it was time to rotate to another station. The Tigers were headed to the classroom building, where we would slow down a little, play board games and have a snack. My first thought was, “What about the gymnastics?” But I soon realized this is where Sunrays just gets it. They keep the kids moving while maintaining an impressive schedule.

When you sign up, parents and campers have a lot of options:  a full or half day, swim lessons next door at Hubbard Family Swim School and more. According to your options and how you spend your day, you are divided into groups.

As a parent, I was reassured to see the way the staff transports the kiddos in between the classroom building, dance studios and Hubbard. Each child had to hold onto a rope while staff members walked alongside, front and back.

After games and snacks, we chasséd our way to the dance studio, where we learned a few steps to a routine (to be performed for parents at the end of the week). My fellow 6-year-olds and I also earned the “free dance,” and the combination of good music and room to be free had everyone rocking out!

Arizona Sunrays, summer camp, Supercamp, day camp, Phoenix, Arizona
Liz and Lucy Petroff and a class of 6-year-olds at Arizona Sunrays Supercamp. Photo courtesy of Liz Petroff.

One of the last rotations Lucy and I participated in was the bars and balance beams. I couldn’t bring myself to flip on the bars, but I did learn how to play one of Lucy’s favorite games called “Stick It.” We had to stand on the beam, and when the coach called out a move, we jumped and spun off of the beam hoping to “stick” the landing. I nailed it!

Next thing we knew, it was time for lunch and for Lucy and me to say our goodbyes.

What a blast! Lucy quickly reminded me how badly she wants to return to Supercamp, and added she can’t wait to  cheer on our 2016 U.S. Olympic Gymnastic Teams in in Rio this summer.

Info: Arizona Sunrays Gymnastics & Dance is for ages 3 (potty trained) to 13. Kids can attend for a day or a week at a time. Sessions run 8:30am-12:30pm or 8:30am-3pm. The last week of camp this summer begins Aug 15. arizonasunrays.com.

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