Kids take fitness to 'X-Tremes' at local camp
Running camp at Lodestar Park, Aug. 6 - Aug. 10

Participants in last year's X-Treme Youth Running Camp Photo by Laurie Gordon

By Laurie Gordon
FREDON — X-Treme Youth Running Camp will return to Lodestar Park, in Fredon, from Monday, August 6 through Friday, August 10. The camp has both spawned some incredible runners and served as phenomenal pre-season conditioning for athletes involved in many different sports. Most camps haven't been around for 18 years. What sets X-Treme apart are its nationally-acclaimed motivational guest speakers-- including Olympian Marcus O'Sullivan—its combination of endurance and speed training and its knack for making the camp very effective as well as fun.
The camp started 18 years ago at Swartswood State Park and then moved to Lodestar Park which offers a wider variety of terrain for training. Camp runs from 9 am to noon and features varying drills, games, races and guest speakers each day of the week. Kids are grouped according to ability and the camp is open to kids in grades 4-12.
“X-Treme Camp’s biggest take away for me throughout high school was the people I met,” said Joe Dragon, who was a running phenom at High Point Regional High School and is now one at Syracuse University. “To be able to connect with people from similar backgrounds and love for the sport was special for me. Just from this camp alone I’ve connected with a coach of mine, training partners, and many friends that have supported my years of competing. It was more then a one week camp for me, it was connections and tools that I used throughout high school to become a better runner.”
Dragon added, “”As an athlete, you can’t become the best you can be by just attending a one week camp, but you can learn some tools that will forever make you a better athlete and meet people who will push you to your full potential. This is what I gained from the camp and can attribute my interest to become a runner in the first place, to X-Treme Running Camp.”
“I think the biggest thing I learned from X-Treme Running Camp was the inspiration from people who were/are successful in the sport,” said Sara Pinsonault who made a crescendo over her four years at Pope John High School blossoming into a superb cross country runner and is now a stand out at Wesleyan University. “One big example of someone I looked up to was Sarah Disanza who was an amazing high school runner at High Point and Marcus O’Sullivan. Seeing Disanza's and O’Sullivan’s improvement and work ethic showed me that success can come from anywhere.”
Pinsonault added, “X-Treme also gave me helpful workouts and methods to use in my training like hill runs. X-treme made running fun, and after the week-long camp, I was always excited to jump back into the rest of my summer training. Throughout the years, I made a lot of friends at X-Treme. At first I remember seeing them at my middle school meets, and then as the years went on, I started to see them at my high school meets as well. In making friends with runners from other teams, X-Treme fosters campers to make friends and grow to love the running community and runners whether you’re on the same team or not.”
Of her love of the sport, Pinsonault said, “At first, I really hated running. My dad had made me sign up because he thought it would be a fun way to get me into the running sphere (and most importantly to get me to quit soccer). In high school as I saw more success, I started to like the concrete improvements that running offered me. There was always another personal record to get under or another team to beat. X-Teme helped me on my path from begrudging middle school runner to a college cross country/track athlete. Xtreme most importantly taught me that running can be fun.”
Sam McMullen attended X-Treme Running Camp closer to its start.
He said, “Camp was a great opportunity to help prepare you for the season by putting you up against some of the best competition in the state early in the season. It was also a humbling experience since you got to see who else was out there working just as hard as you.”
McMullen added, “The speakers were huge motivators. Getting to meet some of the people you look up to in-person and hear their stories about how they achieved their goals makes yours feel more attainable. I thank the directors, coaches and speakers for doing this camp each year. Communities need more people that are getting out there and putting in the time to motivate kids to do their best.”
“Thursday of X-Treme Running Camp week is the pinacle of my year,” said Devin Johnstone who will be a junior this fall at North Warren High School and has already demonstrated a great talent. “My favorite week of the year is X-Treme Week and my favorite drill/game at X-Treme is their famous 'Run Around' which is always done on camp Thursday, so pretty much, Thursday of X-Treme is my favorite day of the year.”
This year's speakers will include four time Olympian O'Sullivan, expert form drill specialist and physical therapist, Janice Morra, nationally acclaimed runner and author, Mark Will-Weber, stand out running coaches Sean Robinson and Brendon Donegan, runner, cardiologist and researcher, Dr. Robert Masci, super-motivators Cornell Thomas and Kate Brennan, stand out local runner, Justin Scheid and sport shoe specialist, Kevin Higgins.
“One of the great things about this camp is that it isn't just good for runners: it caters to all athletes in all sorts of different sports,” O'Sullivan said. “It's a great combination of speed and endurance training with a lot of motivation thrown in.”
X-Treme will be held Aug. 6 to Aug. 10 from 9 am to noon at Lodestar Park which is located just off of Route 94 across from the Fredon School in Fredon. Cost is $120 per camper, and space is limited. To register online for X-Treme Running Camp, visit:
For a paper application or for more information, phone 973-362-8006.