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Reflections from Camp – 3 Balancing Acts

Year 8 of BaxterSports Summer Camps has come to a close. It was the biggest and best year so far, thanks to the awesome community of dedicated coaches, supportive parents, and energetic young athletes. As the kids get back to school and we all settle back into a somewhat normal rhythm, I have reflected back at some of the lessons learned from summer camp. It boils down to the balancing act that is coaching/teaching/raising kids.  Enjoy!

Balancing Patience and Firmness

When working with kids, and especially lots of them, patience is a virtue. And believe me, and I speak for my coaches on this one, patience can be trying – especially on the 8th 90+ day in a row. Being firm in what you are asking is a necessity. Sometimes it feels like the two are mutually exclusive. But they actually work in conjunction as counterbalances.

Be too patient, and you’re bound to get walked on. Be too firm, and you’re bound to alienate. In today’s world where there is too much structure for kids in sports, we are constantly striving to strike the balance between structured learning and self-exploratory learning.

Balancing Competition and Cooperation

Conflict is an innate part of the human experience, and it can be a really uncomfortable one. At our camp, it’s not like we encourage conflict, but we don’t go out of our way to avoid it either. The kids are definitely NOT wrapped in bubble wrap and bathed in Purel. And thus are free to make some mistakes.¬† And time after time, with a little patience and firmness (see 1 above), conflict can be the root of a better relationship.

Last summer we had one camper leave after day one of a camp because of a conflict with another camper – this kid did not feel comfortable or safe and decided to leave the camp. We never want to lose a camper, especially since there is learning to be had when conflict arises!

This year we had a couple of younger boys who wanted to kill each other (and said as much – yikes!) – but with supportive coaches and parents they were able to work out their differences and actually become friends!

Balancing What’s good for the Group and What’s good for the Individual

This is true in most sports, where the goals of the individual and team are not always the same. But that’s the beauty of sports sometimes – can you get an individual to sacrifice what they want for the greater good or the team, but at the same time, can you adjust the team to fit the individuals within. As we balance patience and firmness, as well as competition and cooperation, the camp is able to evolve to become better and better!