I don’t know where all these cool sports and activity camps were when I was a kid but the range and breadth of options children have nowadays to learn a new skill are amazing. From space camp to math camp, computer programming to acting, golf to tennis, if your child has an interest – and you have some money – there are plenty of choices out there. Not to mention the traditional sleep-away camps that will let you send your child to any number of exotic (or not so exotic) locations for a few days, a week or months at a time.
The only camp I remember going to was a day camp maybe a half-hour from home where we canoed, did horseback riding, wove lanyards with plastic line and did archery. Way before portable electronics, it was pretty traditional “summer camp” activities, without the scary staying overnight when you’re still young element.
When an email from the Pat Powers Volleyball Clinic showed up in our email inbox, however, Linda and I looked at it closely and decided it would be a great thing for our 13yo, K-, something alleviate her boredom and push her to better her already decent volleyball skills and abilities. Only a weekend, it was going to be grueling: 9-4 on Saturday, then back again for 9-2 on Sunday, all in Lakewood, about an hour’s drive from our home. A 7am wake up call on a Saturday. During the summer? The horror!
After some night before reluctance because of the schedule, we managed to get into the car around 7.45am and headed out to the Gold Crown sports facility in Lakewood. What a great facility it is, a community rec center that offers a wide range of activities for locals and anyone else interested in stopping by. I dropped her off after sign-up, in a gym mobbed with over 70 volleyball players, mostly girls, mostly middle and high school age. Here they are listening to Pat’s inspirational coaching:
While there were drills and other activities, I only attended the last hour or so of each day and that was all about a fast-paced game of “Survivor” where teams of three girls came up to the net and if one of them could set and hit it over properly, they switched to the other side of the net and stayed there, returning other serves until they lost the point.
Here’s a game in play with K- about to return the ball:
The two phrase I heard the most were “STOP!” followed by a few words about what the player had done wrong and “Shag the ball!” which I quickly realized meant go run after the ball and put it into the ball holder!
Impressively, even from Saturday to Sunday I could see a marked improvement in the girls at the camp. I don’t know what Pat and his team were doing but there sure seemed to be a lot of learning going on. The second day 90% of the camp participants were also proudly wearing the Volleyball t-shirt too.
Surprisingly, there was only one other person from K-‘s school at the clinic, and that was perfect. It’s tough to walk into something like this knowing no-one, so having her present gave K- a lot of confidence, and likely vice-versa too as I saw them chatting just about non-stop the entire time.
In fact, you can see the other girl in the below action pic, in the red t-shirt. K-, of course, is poised to return the ball:
All in all, I was really impressed with the camp, and I know that K- had a really good time. She did have to ice her wrists after two days of non-stop volleyball, but I was pleased not to hear a single complaint. Well, other than one younger girl who was “bossy”. Kids judge each other, so I’ve learned to tune much of that kind of thing out, which is likely good for my continued sanity as a dad.
Anyway, I recommend the camp and encourage you to check it out if you’ve a kid who’s really into volleyball and would like to learn a lot about the game in a very compressed amount of time. Learn more at vbclinics.com.