Month: April 2012

Re-asserting the “Team” in Team Sports

Whether your family lives in a large city or a small town, there is likely not a shortage of organized sports  for children. Increasingly, the emphasis of team sports is less about what it means to be a member of a team and more about being the MVP of a winning team.   As a result, child athletes are often caught between sparring parents on one sideline and anxious, screaming coaches on the other.  Overly zealous parents and coaches seldom stop to consider that children often absorb their parents’ feelings and may project the resulting tension through their play.  The immense pressure to be a star who constantly wins is often why many children become burnt-out in the competitive sports environment and choose to take a break or even quit altogether.  Says Fred Engh, author of Why Johnny Hates Sports, “If all the focus is on winning, kids may be scared to fail and make mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process and it’s how one improves.”  One of the most undervalued benefits of team sports at traditional American summer camps is the environment that allows children to make mistakes without fear of backlash from the sidelines and to process those mistakes in a way that they can turn them into learning experiences.

Setting up children for success requires a welcoming environment in which they can feel comfortable being themselves.    Those who tend to be self-conscious are particularly challenged by situations in which tension runs high.  The spirit of camp is one of instruction, fun and safety more than competition.  It’s about making children feel like a valuable part of a unit that utilizes everyone’s talents in a way that is beneficial.  In short, the traditional summer camp environment is a team environment.   At camp, children have the encouragement of their counselors and fellow campers when playing sports.  A child making a layup shot on the basketball court for the first time is cheered just as much as someone scoring a winning three pointer.

Perhaps the relaxed positive reinforcement they receive while learning to play sports at camp is why so many children (as many as 60%) feel compelled to continue being active in an activity they tried for the first time at camp.

A Network of Lifetime Friends

One of the most touted benefits of working at a summer camp is the network one may build even within the parameters of a single summer.  Unlike many work environments, which tend to draw locals with a telescoped set of talents, summer camp attracts staff from virtually all over the world who possess an array of abilities.  A successful summer at camp requires the expertise of athletes and artists alike.  Because summer camps are 24/7 communities, staff members tend to form very close bonds within the two months that they reside at camp each summer.  Camp breeds a sense of family, which is precisely why, for a good many staff members, goodbye at the end of the summer is seldom goodbye forever.  Thanks to a little help from social media outlets such as Facebook, it’s possible to stay in touch with summer camp friends no matter where on earth they live.  Whether it’s couch surfing while traveling, hunting for a job, needing a little bit of advice or support, or sharing an inside joke, camp friends are there.  Working at summer camp is more than just a summer experience.  It’s a way to form a global network of friends for life.

Preparing for Camp

With the start of our Camp Weequahic Tribal session just a little more than two months away, it’s a good time review a couple of things that will help prepare your family for camp.

The Basics:
1. Have you reviewed the packing list and placed your order from Cloz? While it may still seem like a long time from now, the start of camp will be here before you know it and thousands of families will be ordering from them over the coming weeks. Please make sure to get your order in soon.
2. Have you scheduled your baggage pickup with Camp Trucking yet? They provide a fantastic service the picks up your camper’s bags from your home and delivers them to camp so that we can unpack them to make that first day so much more fun. Please go to their website to register today.

3. Have you scheduled your child’s pre-camp health check up yet? We must have an up to date health form signed by your child’s doctor before she or he can join camp.
4. Finally, have you had a chance to look through our parent handbook and completed the requested forms? The majority are due on May 7th. Thank you for working on them promptly. You can find the forms in your My Camp Manager account.

OK, so those are the basics. Let’s get into more weighty matters:

I know many campers (and their parents) are getting really excited and slightly nervous about the first day of camp. Both feelings are completely normal and expected! While it is a big deal to go to camp, we will do everything we can to provide both of you with an incredible experience from start to finish.

If you have a question, please call us and ask! Whether its about the size of the sheets you should send or the difference between wakeboarding and water skiing, please call. We want to help and are happy to do so at any time.

Should children be getting a little nervous about missing home, I suggest parents acknowledge the feeling and then remind them of all the fun they are going to have at camp this summer. With over sixty activities, an incredibly fun (and safe) staff, and so many like minded campers, your child will not only make a bunch of new friends but come home feeling it was the best summer ever!

We will continue to be in touch over the coming weeks with more information about camp to help you and your family prepare for an incredible summer. Please keep an eye out for emails as well as notices on our blog and Facebook page.

Can’t wait for camp,

Cole Kelly