A couple weeks back, I signed Mitchell up for a soccer camp through the organization he is playing his first season with. They host a camp for three hours a day (four days long) during the local spring break. The guy in charge of the whole deal is “Coach Cam,” and I cannot sing enough praises about him. Anyone who can capture the attention of kids from ages three to sixteen all at the same time, make them all feel included and valued and teach them soccer and life skills is good at what they do. Normally, I don’t get the opportunity to take the kids to fun things like this during the week because I am working, but I am taking full advantage of maternity leave! The camp started off each day with a meeting with the players and the coaches, then an all-ages warm-up, before the split into age groups for the majority of the day! Mitchell was one of the very youngest in the camp (three years old is as young as they get and I’m pretty sure most of the kids in his group were four and up), but he was able to fit right in. And no one could tell since he is as tall as some of the five year olds, anyway!
One of the reasons I really wanted Mitchell to do this camp is because this soccer season has forced him out of his comfort zone quite a bit. He’s certainly not a kid that naturally jumps into new and hard situations, and can be intimidated in these kinds of environments. The first day took awhile for him to jump in the fun, but Coach Cam noticed he was struggling and drew him in by asking him to be a “helper” and carrying his clipboard. He slowly inched Mitchell into participation with the rest of the kids, and I was just so, so appreciative for his compassion and patience for our sweet boy. It meant more than he knows! By doing this, Mitchell had a big breakthrough in his comfort in new situations and love for the game of soccer! Now, if only he could have remembered this in his last few games, ha!
Another awesome thing this camp did was a community outreach day where the players brought canned food for the local food bank. They took it one step further and talked to the kids about why they brought the food. That there are families that run into hard times and giving them a simple meal can go a long way in helping a person. That each player is so blessed to have parents giving them the opportunity to play soccer with their friends, with daily chats and reminders to appreciate and thank the person bringing them to soccer camp. On top of this, the coaches memorized all the players names (sans nametags!), teaching them to shake hands at the end of practice and thank their coaches. Whether or not these kids keep up with soccer, these are life lessons that will be valuable for all of time!
We left Julia at preschool and let Mitchell play hookie for the week. Preschool was a perfect place for her because she would have spent the entire time trying to run on the field and join in the camp. Polar opposite of Mitchell’s personality. Lucky for her, she’ll be three next year and able to join in the fun! So, I relaxed in my camping chair snuggling up our baby Aubrey girl for the three hours, only getting up to snap the occasional picture and reapply third and fourth layers of SPF!
I think I heard Coach Cam say “everyone sit on your ball like a chicken on an egg” 1,000 times that week, ha! And so, we wrapped up the week so appreciative of the experience of Mitchell’s first soccer camp. Thank you to the JASA organization for putting on such an awesome camp that taught our little boy a whole lot of lessons that week! Just call me a regular old soccer mom!