During a summer filled with challenges for recreation directors navigating the pandemic, the staff at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Youth Programs in Tucson, Arizona stepped up big.

And the kids – and their parents – are still raving about the experiences, which earned the Davis-Monthan staff the Excellence in Youth Sports award.

The prestigious award is presented by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine for a specific initiative, process, project, campaign, element or component of a program that goes above and beyond. In order to be eligible for an Excellence Award an organization must first earn the Better Sports for Kids Quality Program Provider designation, which demonstrates that a program has taken the necessary steps to ensure quality throughout their program.


The Davis-Monthan staff rolled out five different camps and challenges that were held between May and August.

The most popular of the offerings – the Summer Fitness Challenge – was an idea sparked by the kids during their daily interactions at the facility.

“Every day they were coming in saying they wanted to see who the fastest person was in the rec center,” says Shea Cantrell, Child & Youth Program Assistant at Davis-Monthan. “So we decided to start a Summer Fitness Challenge. We incorporated six core areas. We had sprints, a wall sit, planks, push-ups, sit-ups and a Hula Hoop Challenge.”

The name of the child with the top score was posted on their Challenge Board and youth were encouraged to try to beat it every day throughout the summer.

The challenge kept kids engaged throughout the summer as they enjoyed trying to better their scores.

And it was so successful the staff plans to conduct it again next summer.

“The kids have already asked us to repeat the activity again next summer,” Cantrell says.

The staff plans to tweak the challenge, adding in new activities to keep it exciting.

“The kids want to try six new areas,” Cantrell says. “They want to try something different.”

The staff kept the kids busy with plenty of other fun-filled offerings as well. There were week-long basketball, volleyball and racquet camps where youth learned fundamentals. The camps were capped off with a Friday of fun as the kids took on the parents and put their new-found skills learned throughout the week into action.

There was also a free-throw challenge conducted among 11 bases that the youngsters at Davis-Monthan won. The innovative challenge encouraged kids to share videos of themselves shooting free throws and how many they converted, and bonus points were awarded for parent participation. 


During these unprecedented times the kids loved the chance to engage in these camps and challenges, and parents appreciated the opportunity to take part, too.

“We’ve all worked really hard,” says Kathy Lozano, Youth Sports & Fitness Director at Davis-Monthan. “With COVID going on it’s been really stressful, so working with the kids and getting the parents involved has brought us all closer together during this difficult time.”

And created some special experiences for families that will never be forgotten.

View the full 2020 NAYS National Awards Presentation: 

Excellence Fitness Davis-Monthan Health

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