Robert Tucker had a goal when he started the All Sports Camp at Loras College in 1982: he wanted to teach children sports and Christian values. In its 32nd year, the tradition continues.
Tucker and his wife, Judy, started the camp when they moved to Dubuque. The educators with more than 50 years of experience wanted to continue to do camps, as they had done in the past in other places.
This year, Loras All Sports Camp drew 550 for each of the four, week-long sessions. Each day, the students have one major activity that lasts two hours and two minor activities that last an hour each. They chose from archery to trapshooting, Zumba to Ultimate Frisbee.
"What we're trying to develop is character, along with it hopefully they'll get better at sports," Tucker said.
The intent of the camp is to get children interested in physical activity. While some of the kids have gone on to Division I schools after attending the camp, Tucker said that is not the goal.
"We think it's important for kids to develop skills. Not just do one or two sports but to try different sports," he said.
Mandie Lillibridge is a girls counselor and the volleyball instructor. She has been at the camp for five years. She sees a change in the students each session from the start of camp on Sunday to the Olympics on Friday.
"It's really cool to see them grow from day to day," she said.
In addition to sports instruction, the children learn eight brands: love, Christianity, perseverance, attitude, dedication, discipline, loyalty and enthusiasm.
Abbigail Markus, an incoming freshman, has been attending the camp for five years.
"I've grown better at sports and incorporated the brands into my every day life," Markus said.
She decided to come to camp because she wanted to try new sports. She already does karate, cross country and track.
Colton Rheingans started camp when he was in second grade. Six years later, he still loves playing sports and being active. His sport of choice is football.
"I like playing defense and making tackles," Rheingans said.
The drills they practice teach him better footwork and tackling techniques. He's improved on defense but he's also learned character.
"You have to be nice to everybody. Be a loving and Christian person and stay dedicated," he said.
Casey Anderson is a head counselor. He has been at the camp for 11 years. He said the kids are encouraged to explore.
"We give kids on all ability levels a chance to participate, to get to try new things," he said.
The kids see a change in themselves after a few days and they know it is because they attended camp.
"The life lessons we learn here keep me motivated to be a better person. This camp helps me not give up and have a positive attitude," Markus said.