From the Anash.org inbox: I’ve seen how much more the athletic kids enjoy camp than the less athletic ones, and it makes perfect sense. How is a kid expected to enjoy camp when the whole day he’s just sitting on the side, waiting for the five minutes he can actually play?
By a camp counselor
As the first month of summer comes to an end in most Chabad boys’ camps, I’d like to express my thoughts about an issue that has been affecting our camps, at least since my own childhood – sports.
Now, don’t get me wrong, sports are great, and many kids love them. I’d even say some kids come to camp specifically for the sports. My concern isn’t sports themselves, but rather the excessive focus, pushing, and hype surrounding them.
There are many kids out there who are just regular children, and they belong in a regular Chabad camp. However, many of these kids end up disliking camp for a simple reason – they’re either not into sports or they are, but they never get the chance to participate due to them not being as good. Consequently, the coaches and captains won’t put them on the field.
I’m not fully blaming the coaches, and I can tell you that last year, besides being a counselor, I also coached a team in leagues. Yes, it’s hard to put kids who aren’t good at sports in the game as much as skilled kids. Why? Because there’s this overemphasis on sports, and even the coaches feel pressured to win.
I remember once I took my best player off the field for a few minutes, and we ended up losing the game because of it. Later that day, a fellow counselor told me, “C’mon, you should know. Never take your best player off.”
Now, tell me, why does the kid who’s good at sports deserve to have a more enjoyable summer than a less athletic kid? Go ahead, explain! Some may claim “That’s just the way it works,” but I genuinely don’t see that as a fair argument. Why is that the way our camp system operates? Why is a coach considered “generous” for putting a less athletic kid in for a “full quarter of a game”?
I believe there are two solutions:
1. Camps should have more teams with fewer children per team, allowing more kids to play. (I actually heard that in the BMD of one of the major Chabad camps, that was an emphasis this year.)
2. Camps should offer alternative options other than sports.
I’ve seen with my own eyes how much more the athletic kids enjoy camp than the less athletic ones, and it makes perfect sense. How is a kid expected to enjoy camp when the whole day he’s just sitting on the side, waiting for the five minutes he can actually play?
I hope camps hear and understand this letter and take it to heart.
A Counselor in a major Chabad Camp