Stepping up to the ramp, with bowling ball in hand, Eric Bennett lined up his shot and released the ball.
Just a few short feet down the alley it swerved off into the gutter, but the four-year-old couldn’t be happier with the shot.
He immediately retrieved another ball, corrected his mistake by centering his position and knocked down three pins.
Eric is just one of several children to take in the weekly Munchie bowling program in Gander.
Andy Charlton, owner of Andy’s Alleys in Gander, started the program three years ago, after talking with parents who were having trouble finding things to do with their toddlers, other than play groups.
“So we decided to develop a program that catered to pre-schoolers,” said Charlton. “It gets them interested in bowling while allowing the chance for them to have some fun. They run around, dance and socialize with others.”
The only requirement to take part in the program is for the pre-schoolers to be able to walk on their own and be capable of handling a bowling ball – approximately five pounds – by themselves, generally from ages one to four-and-a-half. While there is a small fee associated with the program, there’s also a snack provided.
Charlton said Munchie bowling has been received well by both parents and children, and he’s hopeful that interest can bring about the return of the Youth Bowl Canada (YBC) program to Gander.
“Parents ask if we have it, but unfortunately, right now, we need volunteers to coach it,” he said.
One young bowler loving the program is three-year-old Finley Macpherson.
He’s been involved with the program for the last year-and-a-half, and enjoys “knocking the pins down.”
His mother Amanda, says it’s a great way to educate their children in a fun environment.
“It teaches them a sport at a early age,” she said, “When Finley first started he was just rolling the ball down the lane, but now he knows where he needs to throw the ball in order to knock down the pins, he realizes there’s a purpose to bowling, that it’s a sport.”
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer coach for the YBC can contact Charlton at 651-2695.