18 Feb 5 Camp Lessons for Improved Performance in Sports (and Life)

5 Camp Lessons for Improved Performance in Sports (and Life)

With all that is going on the world we sometimes lose focus and need some grounding to help better cope with life’s challenges. Camp Susquehannock is one of the few places that help ground us with true life-guiding principles.

I recently read a great article by Chris Carmichael, a cyclist, coach and founder of Carmichael Training Systems. His advice not only reminded me of what we learn at Susquehannock but how we can all apply it to our daily lives.


In life, as in sports, passionate and inspired individuals will achieve much more than an extremely talented individual who simply goes through the motions.

At Susquehannock, we encourage children to try all types of sports and activities. This is how they find their true inspiration, and this is what produces high-level performance.

It does not matter if you are an incredible athlete or just starting out, passion and inspiration are what drive your ultimate success. The Senior Staff and Counselors at Susquehannock are incredibly passionate and serve as inspiring models for young athletes.


Every day at Susquehannock, young athletes are coached through clinics in a variety of sports and activities and then compete in actual games later in the day. And while we all want to win, the focus is always on improving and learning the joy of competition. The outcome will take care of itself, and in most cases, it will be incredibly positive when you are enjoying the process of learning and competing.

Olympic athletes, musicians and artists spend years practicing with one goal in mind. However, in order to achieve that goal the training/practice/routine must take place every day! The most successful individuals (regardless of activity) are those who love the process of training. They love it because they get to do what they enjoy every day! At Susquehannock we teach campers to love what they do as much as the love of the intended outcome or goal.


Too many of us discount the effort and commitment we make on a daily basis to improve our lives. We never give ourselves credit or the permission to be successful. We look and compare ourselves to others and think we simply are not good enough.

At Susquehannock we challenge campers to try new sports and activities every day. Each day they have failures and successes. They are encouraged to believe that their best effort – regardless of success or failure – is what’s most important, and they should take pride in that effort and commitment.

Campers should never minimize the commitment and effort needed to succeed. Now, I’m not saying we want them to be arrogant or boastful, but they do need to give themselves credit! Sometimes the credit we give ourselves is the only credit we will receive. Let’s face it, there will always be someone smarter, stronger and more athletic, but that should have no bearing on the pride you have in your own effort.


The staff at Susquehannock are some of the most positive and motivated people you will ever find, and this is not an accident. These are the type of people we look for to serve as models for the campers.

Can you imagine how awful the summer camp experience would be with negative people? Take a page out of a summer at Susquehannock and make sure you and your kids are surrounded by positive and energetic people.

In the article, Carmichael touches on this topic: The people we spend time with have a lot of influence over our thoughts, feelings, and decisions. Optimism is contagious, but so is pessimism. When you surround yourself with positive and motivated people, they help lift you up when you need it and you have the same effect on them when they need it. In contrast, negative people, those who don’t believe in themselves or blame everyone else for their failings, and those who criticize or laugh at your goals and training, will eventually drag you down to their level. Stay with the people who lift you up and disconnect from the people who only drag you down.

During the pandemic, isolation has been a big problem for athletes, students, workers, and seniors (and many others, probably). Even if you can’t physically surround yourself with positive influences, it is important to maintain connections with people who can lift you up and inspire you to be better. Call your friends. Skype/Facetime with your relatives. Talk with your coach.

Better yet, reach out and talk with some of the superstar staff and children from camp!


When times are tough, too many people reach for a trick, a special solution, some new fad or idea to get them through the challenge or issue …when all you really need to do is focus on the fundamentals.

Fundamentals in life and sports produce steadily progressing gains, which result in daily accomplishments that enhance self-worth and confidence!

At Susquehannock, we spend time working on the fundamentals every day! It starts with the simple process of making your bed and cleaning your cabin. This activity means you have accomplished something before your day even gets started.

This takes place on the athletic fields and courts as well. For example, take a Basketball player who spends 80% of their practice time working on a trick shot or a no-look pass and only 20% on fundamentals. They may look great in the layup line or in a game of HORSE, but when they need to play in a real game they struggle and make mistakes which penalizes their team. This person will have a tough time improving and eventually get frustrated with their progress.

Now look at the player who spends 80% of their time on fundamentals and 20% on some fancy shot or pass. This person can dribble with both hands, make consistent on-target passes and rarely makes mistakes. This person makes steady progressive gains. They enjoy the game, they succeed, and they gain confidence because they see the daily achievement.

In life, as in sports, we need to stay grounded in our thinking. As we come to the end of 2020, remember to follow your passion, love the process of life as much as your intended goal, take pride in yourself and your effort, surround yourself with positive energetic people and stick to the fundamentals. At Susquehannock, this produces self-reliant, confident young boys and girls!

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