On camp we have as a minimum three sessions of free play per day. In this time the children will have access to all the equipment and be allowed to play any sport or game that they choose. As coaches we will supervise and guide the participants but the emphasis is on the child to decide how, who, why, when and what it is they will do to have a fun time. As you can imagine each child is very unique and a whole universe of outcomes are possible. Once in the same session we had a full on sports shop being run by twelve infants (Where I was being traded my own goods) whilst twenty yards away there was a fiercely contested junior football match going on. The beauty of free play is it gives the child the power to decide what they want to do, it’s an opportunity for self-driven practice ( a key attribute for any sportsperson), it’s essential for developing social skills as they will referee, pick the teams, share space and it stimulates creative thinking and problem solving. As a coach it’s always a pleasure to see the free play session come to life.
HEALTH AND FITNESS
An obvious one, but a great one. Active children from 8.40am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday. It’s simple and it’s natural, prior to the car and now current age of technology most children would be doing exactly what we do on camp as a matter of course. On their feet, running, jumping, kicking, hopping, skipping and dodging plus so much more. By the end of the week a child is fitter, healthier, and stronger than when they arrived.
NEW SPORTS EXPERIENCED
Every camp it is more or less guaranteed that a child will experience one new sport or game. Mainly because we design it that way. It’s great to see children being enthused by trying a new sport and having the curiosity to ask “How do you do this?”, “How does this rule work” and seeing the light go on that this is the sport for me.
FRIENDS AND SIBLINGS
A great element of camp is seeing new friendships being created either from people at the same school who had never spent the time together or children from other schools meeting for the first time and gradually going from awkward stand offs to full on best buddies by the end of the day. It is also a great opportunity for siblings to bond. A day where big brother or sister becomes exactly that for their younger siblings as they look to them for guidance and support whilst having a whole host of fun. We had two Danish brothers on camp last summer who barely spoke English and to see their bond grow throughout the week was special as they navigated their way through, looking out for each other and handling the challenges together. For all the glory attached to sport and the opportunities for success it is certain that greatest gift sport provides is the social element. A huge network of friends can open up simply because you have a love for chasing, hitting, throwing or kicking a piece of leather around.
Magic moments, there is always one around the corner on camp, whether it’s a 9 year old chipping a football into the basketball net from 20 yards, or a reception winning a game of bulldogs there is always something memorable happening.
When you are involved in a week where you may well win or lose up to 100 plus times it is inevitable that valuable lessons on sportsmanship will be learned. The values of accepting defeat and being gracious in victory are being constantly tested. As is the ability to play by the rules. “ I don’t think it hit me” or “ I didn’t feel it” in dodgeball are favourite quotes however by the end of the week these can quickly become honest acceptance of what happened. Sulkers can become leaders and tears can quickly turn to smiles. Of course it can all descend into an acrimonious free for all with no one speaking to each other! But that is mainly just the coaches.
AGILITY, BALANCE AND COORDINATION
The games and sports we play and the way we play them mean that these essential areas of development for young children are well nurtured by a week on camp. Each sport brings different facets that challenge the child’s abilities. It could be the small ball of tennis enhancing the hand eye element of coordination or the constant agility required to dodge, duck, weave and dive (I think those are the skills Patches O Hoolihan talks about in the film) in a game of Dodgeball or the balance required in football to maintain that brief moment of poise to hold your body shape when passing or shooting. By the end of the week and hundreds to thousands of repetitions later it is accurate to say improvement has been made.
DEVELOPMENT AS A COACH
Nothing quite tests and develops you as a coach as much as a camp. On your toes from the first minute of the day, you are watching, talking, shoelace tying, analysing, playing, managing, man managing, leading, delegating and most importantly of all enjoying it. Camp is easily the most tiring thing I do but also fantastic fun. Getting to know the different children, imparting knowledge, boosting confidence, improving attitudes and providing a safe environment for children to enjoy a world of sport are great rewards.
This particularly applies to our older junior attendees where we will challenge them to lead by example, look out for the younger children, use their initiative to spot jobs and assist the coaches. Lead teams and develop their ability to communicate to achieve successful outcomes. Understand the impact of their actions and develop empathy for children of other ages and abilities.
There’s always a joke competition and there’s always a cheeky one liner that gets you on the funny bone. “Where does a monkey cook his toast?” “ Under the gorilla.” “Knock knock who’s there?” Dunup?...... Yes toilet humour is prevalent. “What do you call a snail on a boat?” “ A snailor!” Boom!
All these factors and more combine on a camp to a make a fantastic week for both children and coaches and very much looking forward to Autumn camps next week. For more info give me a call on 07720629690. Thanks Jordan