Here are the 3 things we loved about soccer camp and think you will too:
Focus on Relationships
The very first day the coaches had the kids "hugging it out" as they warmed up around the soccer field. There were lots of high fives. Every activity had an element that involved encouraging or working with the other kids on the team.
Knowing that my son came to soccer camp with no apparent soccer skills, I was unabashedly surprised to watch him on the 2nd day proudly performing each soccer skill the coach asked him to do. He was doing them with some finesse and without the look we're used to seeing that says, "Well, someone else can do that better, so I'm not any good." He ran fast, and then faster when another kid pulled ahead.
In addition to the physical skills, the Challenger Sports program also puts an emphasis on developing a child's inner confidence. More than once during the week the kids gathered around their coaches and traded turns standing in front of the group and sharing a joke. It can be a scary thing, but after each joke the kids and coaches all clapped and laughed and shouted praise. Kids who had stood up timidly, sat down beaming from ear to ear!
Games, Not Winning
The focus on winning in American youth sports is one of the primary reasons our family has not made organized sports a priority. We try to teach our kids the importance of learning skills and developing a love for an activity even when it's not going well. My biggest pleasure with the Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp is that they never "played a game" of soccer. Doesn't make sense, does it? I loved it!
The two camp groups I watched playing each day ranged from 3-6 and 7-10 and they played fun games for an hour and half each day. The coaches taught them a skill and then implemented it into a relay race or a cone drill or a game of make believe. One day they were retrieving ice cream cones, the next traveling on world-wide adventures, and the next re-enacting their favorite scenes from Toy Story. My absolute favorite was a pirate game.
I am sure that as kids get older and advance through the Challenger Sports program, there does become more of a focus on the actual game of soccer. I, though, could not be more grateful for the emphasis at a young age on skills and having fun.