Note: This is the second of eight profiles recognizing the outstanding organizations that were presented with the Excellence in Youth Sports Award in New Orleans during the Youth Sports Congress. The prestigious award, developed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine, recognizes programs that are doing superior jobs of conducting diverse activities with a focus on providing safe and positive experiences for all participants, including children, parents and coaches.

The beautiful state of Idaho and all of its wonderful natural resources are put to great use by the Mountain Home Air Force Base Youth Sports Program staff – and the children there couldn’t be happier.

The spring and summer months feature programs like kayaking, white-water rafting and mountain biking; while winter opens the door for children to hit the slopes to experience the thrills of skiing and snowboarding.

The Mountain Home staff believes by offering more than just traditional sports they will reach more youth and fulfill their program goals of helping children develop not only a lifelong love of sports but inspire a commitment to maintaining healthy lifestyles.

“It’s nice to be able to see that our kids are getting a great benefit from the different programs that we have to offer,” says Erin Arel, youth sports and fitness director at Mountain Home, which also won the Excellence Award in 2005. “It’s a great way to get those kids who don’t necessarily feel comfortable being on a sports team or don’t like team sports to get active and get involved to reach a bigger population.”

And if being on the water or the snow isn’t of interest to a child, the department offers plenty of other more traditional opportunities to spark their interest with soccer, baseball, cheerleading, swimming, volleyball, dance and basketball programs, among others.

The Mountain Home AFB Youth Sports Program staff holds their programs accountable by constantly assessing their strengths, as well as areas that need improvement, through its After Action Report. The report provides a detailed description of each individual sport, from marketing to the closing ceremonies, and helps lay the framework for improving future seasons.

Regardless of what sport or activity a child chooses, they can be sure it will be a positive experience. The Mountain Home staff cultivates an atmosphere in all of its programs in which each child feels a true sense of belonging and achievement, no matter what their level of ability.

“It’s a great honor to win the Excellence Award,” says Arel. “I’m most proud of our ability to reach kids. My goal is to see every kid active, every kid happy and every kid doing something.”

Excellence Award Mountain Home AFB

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