Don’t be deceived by Sydney Lewis’ ear-to-ear smile – she may co-own and operate Burgaw’s BEST After School and Summer Camp, but she’s also a blackbelt; and with the help of her and her husband Michael Lewis, you can become one, too!
What most locals know and love as Burgaw’s BEST After School and Summer Camp (Burgaw’s BEST) actually blossomed out of a passion for martial arts and a heart for serving the community-opening originally as Lions Crest Martial Arts. Today, they offer kickboxing, Brazilian jiu jitsu, karate classes and after school care with a twist (or a kick!).
Sydney tells me that Lions Crest’s motto, “Train for Life,” extends far beyond the mat, and she and Michael proved just that when the pandemic hit in 2020 and they were forced to pivot, shifting the business to accommodate the communities growing need for childcare. Investing in bright orange and grey partitions (now used to separate the after school care from the martial arts mats), Lions Crest reopened as an after school care provider offering virtual learning, arts and crafts, games, martial arts, and summer camp for kids K-5. “We are big advocates of getting the kids moving first thing,” Lewis states as she explains some of the fun and physical activities the kids would do before beginning their school days on the computer, including many practices from martial arts. “We are building confidence in the kids and showing them what they’re capable of.”
Above every cluster of seats is a royal blue sign reading “We are…THE BEST! Hard work…PAYS OFF! We never…GIVE UP!”, a chant the coaches do with the kids to start off every day. “We want our kids to know they are the best and that their actions aren’t part of their identity,” Sydney says, as she explains that much of their work at Burgaw’s BEST is about changing the kids language patterns and finding their strengths and talents, shifting from “No, I can’t.” to “Yes, I can!” Lewis proudly tells me a story of a Burgaw’s BEST kid who has begun correcting their parents whenever they hear them say “I can’t.”
Burgaw’s BEST and Lions Crest is a resource for the whole family, offering adult kickboxing, women’s kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu classes for all ages in the evenings. Lewis offers many moving stories of how she has seen people shift through martial arts training, seeing their aggression as fuel rather than anger, and showing people what they are capable of. “Aggression has such a negative stigma, but it can fuel us for movement,” Sydney says, both physically and mentally; “how can we [use it to] help change our community?”.
Lewis says her adult students sometimes tease her about the intensity of the classes, and she responds, “You didn’t come here because it was easy!” A message Sydney shares with kids and adults alike is “The way we do anything is the way we do everything.” The Lewis’ don’t do anything halfway. “When we grow, everything around us grows,” Lewis shares, explaining how she pushes her students and coaches to keep learning and becoming better versions of themselves. That mentality is seen in everything the Lewis’ tackle, from Lions Crest to Burgaw’s BEST, to their staff and their community.
To keep to their promise of offering Burgaw the best, Burgaw’s BEST After School and Summer Camp & Lions Crest Martial Arts will be moving downtown to expand their reach, providing a place where families can drop their kids and have the opportunity to enjoy downtown, the nature trails and focus on their own health. “Our hearts and roots are here in Burgaw,” Lewis says.
The community can’t wait to see the spark that Burgaw’s BEST will bring to downtown!
Burgaw’s BEST is an after school and summer camp after school care provider offering free transportation and martial arts classes for children K-5. Find out more about them by visiting their website: Burgaw’s BEST After School and Summer Camp and learn more about all of the offerings at Lions Crest Martial Arts here.