Whitefield Academy Blog
If Moms Ran the World: Soccer Camp Edition
If you didn’t know it already, May is National Summer Camp Flyer Month. Flyers start to creep into backpacks and onto refrigerators from schools, libraries, and churches. Coincidentally, it is also the month that every year I become “no fun Mom.”
“Nope, that one is too far away.”
“Nope, that one is too expensive.”
“Nope, I don’t trust the people running that one.”
“Nope, you and your sister can’t do it together.”
As my teary five-year-old lifts up a crumpled soccer flyer to me in her sticky hands, I cry to the heavens, “Why can’t this be easier?!”
So I decided to take on the challenge of creating a summer soccer camp that fit our family’s needs. Because of two other great summer camp experiences we have had, I knew exactly what I wanted. The first great example we had was the Vacation Bible School that our church puts on every year. The main thing that I loved about it is that every single age is included. You come to camp as an attendee until you are too old and then you become a volunteer…basically until you die. The second great example was a camp that already existed at our school. One of our upper schoolers, Maddie, has competed competitively in jump roping and decided last year that she wanted to teach other kids what she knew. She put on an entire week long summer camp for some of the lower schoolers in our school gym. I loved the idea of an older kid mentoring younger kids, and you can’t beat the location.
- One stop shop for parents with kids of a variety of ages
- Located in the safety of the school that we trust
- Run by talented upper schoolers
The largest problem with this soccer camp idea was that I don’t particularly like sports nor do I actually know how to play soccer, so finding a few willing upper school soccer players was a must. So I decided to start with Lawrence, one of our graduated seniors. I knew he was good at soccer and good with kids. When I brought it up to him, he enthusiastically agreed to run a camp, and he even added that he didn’t think any of the leaders should be paid. He wanted all the money to go toward new soccer jerseys for the girls soccer teams.
After a few weeks of sending home our own flyers, recruiting coaches and kids, and purchasing lots of water bottles, we were set for the first day of camp. Minivans and SUVs pulled up, spilling out 45 kids ages 4 to 18 for this inaugural event.
Throughout the first morning, I stood on the hill overlooking our field and was overcome with gratitude for the whole experience. Ten helpers had come out, for free, to train these PK-6th grade soccer players. Every single helper was kind, compassionate, and caring, patiently walking kids up to the bathrooms, teaching skills over and over, and encouraging even the littlest campers. And not one teen helper had a phone out.
Pulling out of the parking lot after camp, my girls rolled the windows down and yelled goodbye to their leaders, calling these juniors and seniors by name. What started out as me selfishly wanting to create a camp that would fit our needs became an amazing blessing for our family. Not only have these older kids modeled mature behavior to my younger kids, but they have created relationships across a huge age gap that will spill over into the next school year and the next.