Deerhorn used to have an activity called Baseball/Soccer. Two activity groups came together each period to play baseball and soccer on alternating days. Increasingly, we found that it had become kids’ least favorite activity. We realized it was because many of these kids played soccer or baseball for many months of the year, sometimes year round. They needed a break, and had come to camp. We changed the baseball/soccer activity to one called Sports & Games, and gave full command of the activity to three very creative counselors. What they came up with that summer has grown and evolved into campers’ favorite activity. Kids still get to play baseball, soccer, lacrosse, flag football, and other traditional sports, but now they are mixed in with a bunch of other very non-traditional activities that kids completely embraced. Their favorites are games like slip & slide kickball, Quidditch, Gasebolf, and Klepton. Games where kids get to be silly and use their imagination, where the total focus is on having fun.
We are not a specialty sports camp. There is competition for those who seek it, but many of our kids don’t. We teach “lifetime sports” that kids can learn when they’re young, and participate in for the rest of their lives. Recently we shared an article on our Facebook page about the detrimental effects of specializing in a sport too early. You can read the full article HERE. It is a really great article that talks about how pressured kids and parents feel these days to specialize in a sport early, for fear of falling behind “the pack.” This earlier specialization has led to more injuries, earlier burnout, & less enjoyment. Kids are missing out on many important parts of their childhood, especially unstructured play, because of an increased focus on one sport.
But we could have told you this 12 years ago when we switched from baseball/soccer to Sports & Games. We have had kids over the years who have had to make the tough decision about whether to come back to camp for another summer or start on their school’s football or soccer team that fall. Teams that practiced all summer that told 12 year olds they would not have a place on the team if they missed even one week of practice. We’ve even had 15 year olds who were chosen to be leaders for the following summer who turned down the offer because football was more important. We applaud their commitment and drive, and we let them know that Deerhorn will always be here for them in the future… a place to grow, to learn, to play, where even grown men can stay at boy at heart.