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Youth bowling camp appealing to both serious, casual bowlers

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 8:06 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 11:30 p.m. CDT
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Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com Zach Ziegler, 5, of Sycamore, follows through after he releases the bowling ball during the kids summer bowling league at Four Seasons Sports in Sycamore on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.
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Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com Lillie Harper, 2, struggles to put her bowling ball up on the ramp at Four Seasons Sports in Sycamore during the kids summer bowling league on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.
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Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com Volunteer instructor Carla Phillips helps Mason Bryant, 7, of Cortland, with his form at Four Seasons Sports in Sycamore during the kids summer bowling league on Wednesday, August 6, 2014. Phillips has been instructing kids bowling for more than 20 years.
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Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com Riley Bryant, 2, reacts to getting a spare at Four Seasons Sports in Sycamore during the kids summer bowling league on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.

Last summer, Four Seasons Sports began a summer bowling program, with 31 children showing up over the course of the inaugural season.

This year, the program more than doubled – and next year the program directors are expecting even more.

Marketing director Anne Kijowski, who came up with the idea for the informal summer program, said next year the camp likely will expand to three days a week.

The camp is split into three age groups, with children younger than 7 paying $5 for one game a week on Wednesdays, 6 to 8 year olds paying $8 for two games and children 9 and older paying $10 for three games. All ages get the perks that come with the camp – free hot dog and soda lunch every week, a trophy and an ice cream party at the end of the year and 30 free games with free shoes for use over the course of the summer.

The season comes to a close Wednesday and Kijowski said she was thrilled with how the camp was taking off. She said she hopes the camp provides children a safe, friendly place to spend the summer.

Owner Marsha Royalty also hoped the camp got more children interested in the sport and bolstered the numbers for the more competitive fall leagues.

"The regular fall program, kids aren't as active as they used to be," Royalty said. "And the youth program is a feeder for the high school teams, and as kids don't get involved in that, then they don't have experience when they get up to that age.

"Will that happen? Last year we only ended up with a couple kids transitioning out of this program to our fall program," she said. "This year I think we will see more."

The camp also gives more serious bowlers more time to compete. Christian Lanan, 11, has been bowling for four years and his mother, Kathy Lanan, was thrilled when the summer league started.

"It's a good way for him and his friends to keep bowling all year," Lanan said. "This way they're more consistent."

Regardless of how the experienced bowlers enjoy it, Kijowski said the main point of the camp is to "put down your cellphone, shut off the DVD player, put down the laptop and come have some fun."

"The main thing is to have fun," Kijowski said. "The fall is for more serious bowlers. People like what they're good at, and as these kids come and bowl and improve, some do become serious bowlers and transition into leagues we offer with coaching. But a lot are here to have fun with their friends. And that's OK, too."

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