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Sports camps and programs can be a good outlet for athletically inclined campers. But, even those who aren’t enthusiastic about sports can benefit from them.

According to Jim Rosenberger, owner of Chagrin Valley Athletic Club in Bainbridge Township, and Dan Usaj, associate director of athletics and program director of boys’ lacrosse at Hawken School in Chester Township, campers can take away helpful lessons from sports-centered camps.

“Campers learn how to cooperate while playing games,” Rosenberger said. “Patience is learned through taking turns for games or even waiting quietly to be served lunch. Summer camp is about making new friends and accepting differences. These lessons are applied as school children and through adult life.”

At Hawken School, the camps are run through the athletic department, where they are aligned with the school’s mission, Usaj explained. The mission is based on “forward-focused preparation for the real world through development of character and intellect.”

“The benefits of the camps include valuable life lessons about responsibility, hard work and even health and fitness” he noted. “Campers also get to improve their skills on the field or court. Most importantly, Hawken athletics campers have a great time and make memories that last a lifetime.”

With these lessons in mind, Usaj said sports camp experiences can impact the whole child, not just the side that looks to be active.

“(Sports camps) help give campers the tools to develop and succeed not only physically, but also mentally and socially as they grow,” he said. “To just name a few, campers learn skills such as the value of exercise, social like meeting new friends, perseverance, problem solving, self-confidence, strategic thinking, teamwork, independence and responsibility.”

Rosenberger focused on teamwork, especially how it is a natural skill campers learn at sports-centered camps.

“Teamwork is a very important skill to learn for sports and life,” he noted. “Relying on others to accomplish a certain goal. You will not win or succeed at everything you try. And if you don’t win, do not give up. It is important to pick yourself up and keep trying.”

Both professionals said their sports camps offer more than just athleticism, further supporting the idea of a well-rounded summer.

“We have scavenger hunts which require cooperation and creative thinking to complete the hunt,” Rosenberger stated. “Our campers also have opportunities to perform skits an create unique dancers to express themselves.”

Usaj said, “During a typical day at our athletic camps, our campers learn more than just skills of that specific sport. Our campers learn new social skills, through being paired up with new friends in partnered drills. Our coaches also put our campers through fun drills and game situations where our campers are challenged to work within a group dynamic. Whether kids are on the field, court or floor, they will face challenging problems they will need to conquer for themselves and their team.”

But for children to succeed at sports camp, parents need to determine which sport, and camp, their child would thrive in. There are also other general camp things to look out for too, the professionals said.

“Activities that the camp offers should be of interest to the child,” Rosenberger said. “Also, visit the facility with your child before camp starts. Make certain the camp does all the required federal and local background checks on all staff involved with your children, too.”

Usaj said, “Parents can inspire their son or daughter to try new things, meet new friends and practice a difficult technique. The simple answer is sign up for a camp which the camper is already familiar with the sport, however, I would advise to also sign up for an athletics camp where the child is brand new to the sport. This allows them to try something new and have fun.”

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