Press release Play Global!
None of the kids at camp on the first day spoke English or had met an American before. Coach Kevin Healy’s job was to make these Kyrgyz children into baseball players. He taught them how to put on a glove, how to throw the ball and which way to run the bases. By the end of the week, kids at Summer Camp America were catching fly balls and playing actual baseball games. They had a great time doing it.
“As we wrapped up camp each afternoon, least one of the kids said that baseball was the best part of the day,” Kevin said.
This was Play Global’s third year partnering with nonprofit American Councils for International Education, which runs this annual program in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia. In addition to baseball, campers ages 8-14 participated in English, drama and art classes. This camp, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, aims to give Kyrgyz children a positive experience with American culture.
This was not a typical place to coach baseball. Held in a former Soviet youth camp, the facility has rustic bunk houses and no toilets. The sports area is in a rocky gorge next to a rushing river. Kevin had to adjust to local food and the language barrier.
Despite it all, he is overwhelmingly positive about the experience.
“The camp counselors were fantastic. They not only translated what I was saying, they learned enough about baseball to help teach drills and do a little coaching. We had a great team.”
As an experienced teacher, Kevin was able to guide the counselors as they led the two one-week camp sessions.
“I showed them ways to keep their groups busy and well-behaved. They got more confident with maintaining order every day.”
By the end of the camp, the players even learned to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.