America’s Best Karate offering safe camp for kids The Chandler Arizonan

America’s Best Karate offering safe camp for kids

America’s Best Karate offering safe camp for kids
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By Zach Alvira
Arizonan Sports Editor

For nearly three decades, Mike Erickson has presented local parents with a fun and safe option for their kids to go during the summer months.

Even now, as the coronavirus pandemic has made individuals adapt to a new normal, Erickson plans to be there for parents as the state begins to loosen restrictions and parents begin to head back to work. Erickson has run a kids day camp for 27 years his karate school, America’s Best Karate, in Chandler. He attributes the consistent success every summer not only to the community that entrusts him with their children, but for the way his camp is run compared to others.

“We are much smaller than the other camps,” Erickson said. “A lot of the larger ones just sit in gyms with kids all day, which can have a lot of germs. We don’t go to a lot of the same events as other camps that have 3,000 kids.”

Limiting the number of campers, especially in today’s society, is key to further practice social distancing as recommended by state health officials. Erickson’s camp is limited to about 40 kids per day. They are all separated into smaller groups and participate in different activities.

Most of the groups start the morning with a field trip to a local business. Erickson expects Big Air Trampoline Park, an indoor facility opening nearby, to be a big hit for kids once able to safely attend. The groups go on fieldtrips to a local Peter Piper Pizza and movie theater. America’s Best also brings in outside vendors for the kids, such as petting zoos and firetrucks.

But while some camps, Erickson said, may bring their campers during normal business hours, America’s Best does the opposite.

“We go in two hours before they open, that way we make sure the place is clean,” Erickson said. “The kids still get to go out and do fieldtrips and be active, but they aren’t intermingling with other kids or the general public. When we go to movie theaters, we rent our own theater so it’s just one of our small groups.”

The camp usually stays at one of the fieldtrip locations until it opens for regular business. At that time, they all return back to America’s Best Karate’s 40,000-square-foot facility on Alma School and Germann roads. More activities from arts and crafts to indoor sports are then played until lunch.

Campers usually partake in a martial arts or other activities before and after lunch, then have the ability to choose whether or not they want to participate in one of America’s Best’s classes that take place in the early evening hours.

“We are super active,” Erickson said. “When we go to Peter Piper Pizza, they can have all the tokens they want for two hours but they have to do 10 pushups. We are encouraging exercise, but we are also working to keep the kids safe and happy.”

By limiting the number of campers, Erickson said it allows for adequate social distancing measures to take place even inside the facility. Kids are allowed to interact with others, but they generally stay within their own small groups. Those same groups rotate to different activities throughout the day, so they generally aren’t ever all together at once.

The club also has hand sanitizer and other disinfectant products readily available to constantly maintain a clean environment. They’ve also started taking temperatures of each child before they can enter. Masks are also provided.

“Even the kids get involved with cleaning sometimes by washing their hands,” Erickson said. “They’re learning responsibility of keeping clean in today’s world. Anything we can do to keep them safe, we are doing it.”

America’s Best is currently in the process of signing up campers for the summer session which started May 22. Erickson said there is still room for more to sign up. The camp typically runs through the first week of August, when schools begin for the new year.

The cost of the camp is $189 per week, which includes all the entrance fees for fieldtrips and other necessities, such as a mask and shirt. Children ages 5 to 14 are allowed at the camp, but Erickson said the typical age range that attend is from 6 to 12 years old. If kids sign up for at least four weeks, the price drops to $169. Family discounts are also offered for two or more kids.

The camp typically runs until 4 p.m., with parents dropping off kids between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.

From 9 to 11 a.m. they go on a fieldtrip.

Erickson’s goal with his camp was to provide a similar experience to what he had as a kid, one that to this day he still and cherishes.

“I remember going to camp as a kid and getting excited to see what my mom packed for lunch and getting to play and explore with my friends,” Erickson said. “We were really active, and I always looked forward to going to camp. We wanted to offer that same experience.”

For more information about America’s Best Karate summer camp, visit www.summercampaz.com/ or call (480)217-0652.

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