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Watson: National Youth Sports Program summer camp on ‘hiatus’ for 2020

MORGANTOWN — There will not be a National Youth Sports Program summer camp in 2020, but a working group is hopeful the camp will return in some form.

WVU College of Physical Activity and Sports Science Interim Dean Jack Watson explained as much Monday following a meeting with community constituents.

“We had that meeting today and the decision has been made that we need to take a year hiatus on this program,” Watson told The Dominion Post. “The decision was just made this afternoon.”

NYSP began in 1988 as a federally funded program through the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, but it’s been primarily supported by CPASS since federal dollars dried up in 2005.

The four-week, half day summer camp serves low income families, which can enroll children based on a sliding fee. More than a third of the 130 campers who participated last summer did so at no cost.

Watson previously explained that for the program to continue, CPASS needed community partners to come on board.

He cited a number of factors including tightened university budgets, the loss of the WVU Natatorium for camp swimming, increased food costs, the difficulty in finding qualified counselors and the June retirement of longtime CPASS Dean and NYSP champion Dana Brooks.

It is estimated that CPASS has invested at least $625,000 in the program since federal support was cut.

According to Watson, there simply isn’t enough time to pull together the partnerships needed to provide a quality camp in the upcoming summer.

“We just didn’t think that was really possible given everything that’s happening right now,” Watson said, adding, “I don’t know that a future program would keep the name of NYSP … but I think everybody in the room really values the type of program that this is and wants to provide programming for this specific demographic of our community.”

Watson said the other participants in the meeting asked not to be identified to the press.

“What I can tell you is that I feel great about the meeting today and everyone really wants to make this happen,” he said.