16 Feb Perspectives from a Grandparent on ‘Campin’ Cousins’

I am so excited to share a wonderful perspective on Susquehannock from a grandparent of current campers. We have countless siblings and cousins who attend camp and develop incredible bonds. The following message provides an entirely different look at the experience and what it means for a grandmother to have her grandchildren attend Susquehannock together. I hope you enjoy this reflection as much as I do!

Perspectives from a Grandparent on ‘Campin’ Cousins’

By Dona Pearcy
Grandmother of Kaitlyn, Elizabeth + Ryan Pearcy
Ford + Georgia Cash

Going away to a traditional overnight camp was a rite of passage in my family, and it was a given that I would want my own son and daughter to have the same experience. With many friends in Philadelphia who were already part of the Camp Susquehannock family, our camp choice was an easy one. The bonus was that our children would be on the same camp calendar and one easy drive to the Endless Mountains for their respective single gender camps. Our daughter Page attended Susquehannock for Girls for five great summers. Our son Jay is still at Susquehannock after many years as a camper, counselor, and now as Head of the Girls Camp.

We appreciate all that is taught and learned at Susquehannock: sportsmanship, leadership, independence, athletic skill development, self-confidence and cabin life, to just mention a few camp “takeaways.” We love the fact that at Susquehannock, children learn to take risks and make decisions without input from their parents. It was a great joy to watch our own children grow and develop positively at camp in the 1980s.

Fast-forward 25 years and suddenly our 5 grandchildren (3 girls and 2 boys) were old enough to go to camp. I never gave a thought to the possibility of my grandchildren ending up at Susquehannock together …but that’s what happened and it has been such fun to watch! The kids are close in age and always enjoyed family holiday events but they live at opposite ends of the country meaning time together was infrequent. Something magical happened once they began spending summers together at Susquehannock. I noticed the change in their relationships immediately after their first summer together, and it was a wonderful observation for this grandmother. The five kids bonded over their shared experience and I know that Susquehannock has made them closer than they would ever be otherwise. I think this bond will last forever. When we are together at holidays, they break into “camp talk” immediately. It’s as if they have a language of their own – Chicken Feed, Loyal Guard, Golden Broom, Candle Float, Serengeti Plains, TO/The Club, Angleball, Villa, Super Mongo Goofy Monster Relays, the list goes on and on.

Of course, the children would love Susquehannock even if they did not have their cousins there, but they seem to feel that it has enhanced their experience to be at camp together. And that, in turn, has drawn our family closer. One grandchild told me that “camp would not be the same without his cousins.” He said it was so easy for him to adjust that first year, knowing that he had his “go-to” cousins there, adding that he knows all of the campers – both girls and boys – who are older and younger than he is through his cousins. My grandchildren have had the opportunity to bond at camp in a way they would not if their time together was always with parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. This unique experience at Susquehannock has enriched the relationships between the children and has cemented them forever. Camp Susquehannock has now been a significant part of our family’s life into the third generation and we could not be more appreciative.

The fact that we have so many multi-generational campers every summer is a testament to the longevity of Susquehannock. This continuity of community is the foundation that allows so many campers to feel comfortable arriving on campus. We hope to have even more sets of siblings and cousins at Susquehannock for #Summer115!

16 Feb Too Much, Too Soon Injures Young Bodies

If you are concerned about the health of your child or children you need to read the article below. Athletic children are hurting themselves at an alarming rate and despite warnings, parents continue to push their children toward sport specialization.

Please take a moment to read a recently published article in the Boston Globe. I think you will find it well worth your time!

Too Much, Too Soon Injures Young Bodies

By Kay Lazar, Boston Globe Staff

At Advance Sports Therapy in Wellesley, soccer player Haley Lewis worked on rehabbing a cartilage tear in her left knee.

Haley Lewis’s injuries started the summer before seventh grade with a left ankle sprain. She’d been playing soccer nearly nonstop en route to the state finals with her local Newton team, while also competing for an intense soccer club.

Then came the fracture in her pelvis, from constant kicking. Now, the 16-year-old is rehabbing a cartilage tear in her left knee; it sidelined her the entire summer. She hopes to rejoin her soccer teams later this month.

“I’m in a very competitive environment,” Lewis said. “Usually I try to play through [injuries] and I’m not sure that’s the best thing, but I do.”

Lewis has plenty of company. The phenomenon of children’s specializing in one sport at increasingly higher intensities has continued unabated, despite more than a decade of warnings from physicians and physical therapists about the harm it does to young bodies. So too, have the fractures, tears, sprains, and worn-down young joints.

About 22 percent of soccer players 14 years old and younger are hobbled by overuse injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ OneSport Injury campaign, the academy’s latest initiative to reverse the trend of overuse injuries in children and teens. The percentages are even higher for young baseball (25 percent) and football players (28 percent).

“In middle school and high school kids, 50 percent of injuries we are seeing are preventable if these kids weren’t playing year-round,” said Dr. Elizabeth G. Matzkin, chief of women’s sports medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

The lure of mastering a sport at a tender age to gain college scholarships or entree into the pros can be a big driver of these overuse injuries, said Matzkin. She advises children to play multiple sports throughout high school, rather than specializing in one.

“These kids and parents, they all live the dream,” Matzkin said. “I see it everyday in my clinic, and I get it. I have three kids and they all play sports. It’s their life. It’s their identity.”

Sports medicine specialists say they try to encourage enthusiasm for youth sports, which are beneficial for young bodies and minds. But they want to help kids avoid injuries and burnout, and to understand the reality: A small percentage of young athletes will be recruited to play at college, and a vanishingly small fraction make it to a professional level.

Fewer than 10 percent of high school athletes, with the exception of ice and field hockey, and lacrosse, will go on to play at college, according to the latest data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Fewer than 2 percent of college athletes will become professional basketball or football players, and less than 10 percent will make it to the majors in baseball and hockey.

Still, it’s often hard for some players and their parents to keep these statistics in perspective, said Haley’s father, Craig Lewis, who has coached youth soccer in Newton for more than a decade, including his three daughters’ teams. Over that time, he said, it’s been increasingly difficult to keep youngsters from playing their chosen sport constantly.

“If one kid hears another kid is doing it, then they all are doing it,” Lewis said. “We try in the summer to give our girls time off, but it’s very hard. The club team is non-negotiable. If you don’t come to 90 to 95 percent of practices, they won’t keep you on the team.”

Dr. Matthew Salzler, chief of sports medicine at Tufts Medical Center, said he has seen a fairly significant increase in hip, knee, and ankle injuries in young athletes, most typically in gymnastics and endurance running, such as cross country and track. He’s also seeing an increase in shoulder injuries in young baseball players.

“Their bodies are still developing, so stress fractures suggest that there is too much stress on the bone, and as their bodies grow, they can be at risk for stunted or abnormal growth,” he said.

Dr. Nancy Robnett Durban, a physical therapist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, and a spokeswoman for the American Physical Therapy Association, said areas around the growth plates — the places where the bone lengthens in still-growing young bodies — are often where she sees overuse injuries in young athletes.

“We see a lot of Sever’s Disease in the heel at the bottom of the foot, where they bear weight,” she said. “We see a lot of little soccer players with this.”

Sports medicine specialists say they worry that a generation of overly ambitious young athletes will face the agony of osteoarthritis, particularly in their knees, before they’re middle-aged. Of particular concern are knee injuries involving the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.

“ACLs, we can reconstruct them, and they will be out on the playing field again and do great,” said Matzkin, the Brigham and Women’s physician. “But 25 to 30 years from now, you will have degeneration in the knee.”

Just a couple of decades ago, it was rare to see ACL injuries in college athletes. Now, Matzkin said, it’s pretty common to see them in young teenagers, as young as 13, which means some may develop osteoarthritis in their knees in their early 30s.

Matzkin said the college athletes she sees tend to have coaches doing a better job of monitoring strength training and nutrition to help athletes adhere to proper techniques and avoid injuries. The problem, she said, is for younger athletes and their volunteer coaches, who may not have access to the same resources or information.

Matzkin and Salzler, the Tufts physician, recommend that young athletes take one day off a week from all sports to give their bodies a rest. They also suggest children try different sports to give overused parts of their bodies a break.

“Even if you are a runner or swimmer, find a day or two for another activity to build different muscles,” Salzler said.

Both specialists say proper strength training, such as squats or lunges, are fine for athletes as young as 7 or 8, but caution against weight lifting and resistance training until a child’s growth plates are closed, typically around age 13 or 14. Both physicians also advise youngsters to rest if they feel an injury coming on, and seek medical attention if the pain persists more than a week.

Haley Lewis, who is starting her junior year in Newton and wrapping up physical therapy for her knee injury, said her high school and club soccer teams are diligent about proper stretching and strength exercises before practices and games. Still, she has endured overuse injuries because, she said, she compensates when playing through her pain, placing more weight on the other side of her body and getting injured, again.

Her physical therapist has cautioned her to come back slowly, and has not cleared her to play soccer again for at least another two weeks. Lewis can’t imagine not playing soccer someday. But she realizes college competition is a long shot.

“I am just enjoying it for now, and I don’t want it to be ruined for me,” Lewis said. “I want to be a healthy person when I’m older and go to the gym.”

I hope this article was helpful. One of the things we strive to do at Camp Susquehannock is develop young, healthy, confident children. This starts with our dedication to multi-sport athletic development. Sports feed into each other. They are transcendent. The foot skills in Soccer can help the coordination and fluidity of a Basketball player; the hand-eye development of a Baseball player can help a Tennis player and vice versa. This physical development is so valuable to young children, not to mention the confidence kids gain with the ability to play multiple sports.

Thanks for all your support!

16 Feb The 9 Important Questions Parents Ask Before Sending Their Child to Camp

The 9 Important Questions Parents Ask Before Sending Their Child to Camp

We receive many phone calls every spring from apprehensive parents who have registered their children for Susquehannock. The following resource is based on the most frequently asked questions asked by parents. We hope this information helps – and remember – please give us a call if you have any further questions or about our program.

1. “My child is really worried about getting homesick.
What can I do to help?”

You can start by assuring him/her that most people feel anxious when they are in a strange, new environment. This is totally normal! Help him/her to focus on all the reasons he/she decided to go to camp in the first place: new friends, exciting activities, a chance to try new things. Here are some other ideas (please keep in mind that these techniques will work differently from child to child):

+ Share any positive experiences you may have had as a camper. Your excitement will be contagious!

+ Find out how he/she defines “homesick.” Lots of campers use that phrase as a catch-all, and with further exploration you may find that they are concerned about more specific issues – not making friends, being picked on, not being able to do the activities. The more you know about what really scares him/her, the better you will be able to respond to his/her fears.

+ If it seems to be a more general concern about being away from his/her family, talk about ways to feel connected. Have him/her pack a few familiar objects – a favorite stuffed animal and a family photo or two. Writing letters can be helpful, so include plenty of stationery, envelopes and stamps. For children who may have a hard time knowing what to write home about, provide daily topics for each letter (things like names and hometowns of new friends, descriptions of counselors, what was served for lunch, new activities tried, etc.).

+ Give him/her ideas of ways to distract himself/herself if he/she does start to feel sad; suggest writing a letter, talking to a friend, getting involved in a game, etc.

+ Send him/her mail! Campers love to get letters and funny cards, packages (with no food, of course!) and regular reminders that their parents are thinking about them. Handwritten notes are generally best, but, Bunk Notes is a very convenient option to message your camper. A few words of caution: if your family has done something that your camper would perceive as incredibly fun (like a trip to Disneyland) it’s probably not a good idea to mention that in your correspondence. Also, avoid sharing any bad news. Believe it or not, we have had campers find out about illnesses, divorces and family deaths in letters from home!

+ Encourage him/her to ask counselors for help. Our staff is trained to work with children who are feeling homesick, but some children will hide their feelings so well that it is not apparent that they are struggling. If he/she does not feel comfortable confiding in his/her counselor (this occasionally happens; campers see their counselors as “cool” and do not want them to think they are not having a good time) remind him/her that he/she can talk to any of the Directors. We also have medical professionals on campus who are skilled counselors as well as additional parental figures who are always available. Remember that the camp phones are not available for children to call home, so please do not offer this as an option. In our experience, it is not successful in helping the child overcome homesickness.

+ Avoid giving your camper an “out” by telling him/her that he/she can come home if he/she is not happy. All children are at least a little anxious their first day of summer camp; for some, the adjustment takes a few days longer. It may seem that providing this kind of safety net would be a good thing, but what happens instead is those children give into their feelings immediately and do not give their coping mechanisms a chance to work. If you make this promise to your child, it will be next to impossible for you to convince your child to remain at camp if he/she wants to return home.

2. “What do you do at camp for homesick kids?”

+ Many of the same things we encourage you as parents to do! The first rule of thumb is that busy campers do not have time to be sad, so we work really hard to keep everyone engaged at all times. During down time (i.e. meals, first thing in the morning, rest hour, bedtime) counselors keep an extra eye out for signs that a camper may be having a difficult time. They then work to engage the camper in something to keep them focused on having fun. The second rule of thumb is that campers who feel connected to their counselor and their cabin group are less likely to feel homesick, so counselors spend a lot of time – especially in the beginning of the session – developing cabin spirit and unity. If a camper is having a hard time, the counselor will talk with him/her and work with him/her to come up with ways to deal with the feelings he/she may be having. Using these tools, we are able to provide a positive experience for almost all of our campers. However, on the rare occasion that difficulties continue later into the session, the counselor will get additional help from their director. After the director has spoken with the counselor and the camper, a decision will be made about involving the camper’s parents. We believe very strongly that we are partners with you in providing this experience for your children, so it would not be unusual for us to call and ask for your help or advice. Please know that it is very rare to have a child be so homesick that we can not work through it together. Most children adjust and wind up having a fabulous time and then are upset on the last day because they will be “campsick” once they get home. We have known parents who feel badly when they realize that they have not set their child up to succeed at camp.

3. “Okay, I admit, I don’t think my child will be homesick – I think I’ll be the one who is ‘childsick!’ What do I do?”

Again, this is totally normal and more common than you may think. Veteran camp parents can teach us something about the first day of camp. We have noticed is that the veteran camp parents do not linger on campus during Opening Day – they help move their child into the cabin, meet their child’s counselor, say hello to the Senior Staff, hug their child and then leave feeling confident that their camper is about to have another wonderful camp experience. Focus on the wonderful experience you are providing for your child – the opportunity to live and play in a new environment, gain independence and self-reliance, improve their ability to make new friends, and to develop the social skills required to live with a group of people they are not related to – the list goes on and on. Try not to project your concerns onto your child, instead, call the Office and talk with us about your concerns. We are more than happy to chat and can hopefully alleviate your apprehension.

4. “My child is worried about not knowing anyone at camp.
What can I tell them?”

Begin by reassuring him/her that many children arrive at camp not knowing anyone. Remind him/her of the the process of it took to make the friends they are already have at home. Discuss simple things like how to introduce yourself, and some basic questions that can be used to get to know new people. And since making new friends is one of the goals of our camp program, our staff focuses on that from the beginning. The counselors help “break the ice,” and begin playing simple get-to-know you games right away. If your child still seems tentative, pull his/her counselor aside and let him/her know. If you have additional concerns, the Directors are available to speak with you.

5. “What if my child is picked on by other campers?”

It is our goal at Susquehannock for every child to have a safe and positive experience. We define safe in physical, emotional and social terms. Behavior that affects another camper’s experience in a negative way is unacceptable. Counselors are trained to help campers work together as a group, and will intervene if another camper or group of campers is picking on a camper or group of campers. If the behavior continues, a Director will get involved. We will call the parents of the campers misbehaving if the Director’s intervention does not result in changed behavior. In severe cases, we will send a child home if they cannot act in a way that is appropriate for camp. Because counselors cannot possibly see or hear everything, encourage your child to talk to his/her counselor if another camper is picking on him/her when the counselor is not in the immediate area. Assure him/her that counselors are trained to handle these situations in a confidential manner. And if he’s/she’s not comfortable talking with his/her counselor about it, remind him/her that the Directors are always available to him/her.

6. “What if my child gets hurt or becomes ill while at camp?”

We are fortunate to have a dedicated and skilled group of medical professionals providing medical care for our campers each summer. Medications are dispensed four times each day (after meals and at bedtime) and we are able to accommodate campers who require a dose at other times of the day. The health staff also provides primary first aid care for the campers, taking care of things like bug bites, scrapes, bumps and bruises as well as sore throats, headaches and coughs and colds. The staff is available for consultation, can diagnose, and can prescribe medication when necessary. If your child gets hurt at camp (beyond scrapes or bumps and bruises), a Director and a member of the health staff will call to let you know what happened and what actions are being taken. If your child becomes ill at camp and needs more than Ibuprofen or a cough drop, you will receive a call as well. In the rare case of a severe emergency, we have access to local hospitals and excellent medical service.

7. “It worries my child that there are camp activities that he/she has never tried. Can I assure him/her that he/she won’t be laughed at or forced to do something that scares him/her?”

Our camp program is based on a challenge by choice philosophy. While we want each camper to try new activities, we would never force a child to do something they did not want to; we allow them to choose which challenges they want to meet. Each activity has a minimum level of participation for camper involvement. For example: a child who did not want to climb the Tower would be expected to put on the safety equipment (harness and helmet) and cheer on the rest of their cabin group, but they do not have to make an actual attempt themselves. We have found that lots of children say they do not like an activity or do not want to participate because they have never done it before and are afraid of looking silly. Once they see their counselor and/or the other campers in their group trying the activity, they almost always want try it themselves. In addition, we recognize that the majority of our campers do not have extensive (or any) experience with some of the activities that we offer. We provide expert instruction in every one of our activities to help campers develop these new skills.

8. “Will my child have the opportunity to choose some of his/her own activities?”

The magic and the success of the Susquehannock experience is that all campers are divided into groups, according to their cabins/ages/skills and they participate in all of the activities in the Program. Every camper is offered the opportunity to choose specially offered activities or to specialize and do more of something they have enjoyed. Our mission statement reads: Camp Susquehannock encourages the moral, social, and physical development of campers. Through a combination of fun activities, athletic competition, sharing meals in the dining room, and in cabin life; campers create life-long friendships and discover their own potential. Campers are taught to embrace tolerance, show respect for others, handle conflict gracefully and develop a sense of fair play. Through individual guidance, we provide opportunities for self-reliance, self-confidence, sportsmanship and leadership. Our camp community revolves around the cabin group, consisting of 6-12 campers of similar age and 2-3 staff members, and activity groups that are slightly larger. These cabin groups live together and participate in some activities together, while the activity groups practice skills together each day. The relationships that develop as a result of this consistent group living environment are the most memorable and rewarding aspects of the summer camp experience. Campers learn to work as a team, solving problems, supporting and encouraging each other; they learn to respect each other’s strengths and appreciate each other’s differences. And since our counselors live and work with the campers every day, the campers benefit from the close bond they form with their counselors. Our counselors take their jobs as role models very seriously and are aware of the impact they can have on the lives of their campers. There are many camps where campers design their own schedules, whether by choosing activities when they enroll or on a regular basis once the session begins. These programs also provide wonderful opportunities for young people to learn; we feel strongly that the group-centered approach provides greater opportunity for the development of valuable life skills …and besides, it’s a lot of fun!

9. “My child is well-behaved and is not usually a discipline problem. What is the camp policy if he/she does get into trouble?”

Our first goal is to prevent behavior problems. Counselors spend a significant amount time at the beginning of the session helping campers get to know each other. Together they discuss expectations and appropriate behavior while developing cabin rules and consequences. These rules are clearly stated, and counselors ensure each camper in their cabin understands what is expected of them as well as what is not acceptable. It is not uncommon for campers to cross the line into unacceptable behavior. Counselors combine skills brought to camp as well as those taught during staff training to help campers make any necessary adjustments. Depending on the specific situation, counselors will talk with the camper(s) involved and work with them to develop an acceptable solution. If the problem continues, we utilize a system of progressive discipline that is well-defined for our counselors. Staff members are taught to ask for assistance from our experienced Senior Staff. Initially, the Directors provide guidance and additional suggestions. If the counselor feels that more involvement is needed (or if the problem continues) a Director meets with the camper(s) to work on acceptable solutions to the problem. At this stage, our Directors may call a camper’s parents. Since you know your child much better than we do, any insight that you can provide is appreciated. In an extreme case, if we found that s child’s behavior was not permitting that child to participate fully in the camp community, or that the child was being disruptive or harmful to other campers, we reserve the right to have a family come to pick up their child.

I hope these questions and answers were helpful! As always, please call or email you have any questions or need more information!

16 Feb “The time I liked myself best was…”

“The time I liked myself best was…”

I want to share with you a wonderful reflection by a former camper and current Senior Staff member on what Camp Susquehannock means to campers and alumni. It’s not just a summer filled with great fun – it’s a real and meaningful experience that lasts a lifetime. Please take a moment to read through this, I think you will find it very insightful…

My summers spent at Camp Susquehannock have made me witness to many confidence-building moments in the lives of our campers…

+ A camper who spent not days, or weeks, but two and a half full summers learning to swim and then completed their twenty laps

+ A camper who could only climb part way up the Tower in the past reaches the top for the first time

+ A group of campers in a cabin that rarely scores well in inspection makes a late-session run to claim the cleanest cabin title

These identifiable challenges were met, and the campers walked a little taller with confidence because of their accomplishments.

Some confidence-building moments happen unexpectedly. I recently came across an essay I wrote in 1983 at the start of sixth grade following my first summer at Camp Susquehannock…

The time I liked myself best was… When I was elected overall captain of the orange team at camp, also when I won an award shirt at camp. I got these for being a good athlete and a good sport. Being captain meant accepting a trophy if we won color day, and we did win color day. But Orange didn’t win Orange-Blue competition, so we didn’t get a chicken feed. I don’t know if I deserved being captain but I sure am glad I got picked. I played my hardest in all the sports, and tried to have a good attitude win or lose. And I had a really fun time.”

Thirty-five years later I still remember how surprised I was when these honors were announced. The award shirt no longer fits and Susquehannock no longer holds Color Day, but the confidence I gained from that experience remains with me today.

These experiences, expected or unexpected, are part of a camper’s self-discovery that happens at camp. Susquehannock is a multi-sport camp where we teach Basketball, Soccer, Tennis, Swimming, and so on – however – sports are the venue we use to teach life lessons. I recently read in Joe Ehrmann’s book Insideout Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives

“For Socrates, a team was a virtuous community critical to the civic, moral, and spiritual development of the city-state. Friendship was the foundation of a team and self-knowledge was a prerequisite to becoming a true friend.”

I immediately thought of Camp Susquehannock. A camper’s self-discovery, be it confidence or empathy or cooperation, leads to a better understanding of himself, which in turn results in the deep and meaningful friendships formed at camp. These friendships build the foundations of cohesive teams, like Pepper Box cleaning up for inspection, the Orange and Blue Chiefs facing off on the Hockey court, or Table 4 sitting down for a meal in the dining hall. A sense of self, a sense of friendship, and a sense of belonging to a team all combine to form a strong community. Empowering the young people of Susquehannock with these lessons they will be better versions of themselves, and, if I may quote my eleven-year-old self, “[have] a really fun time!”

Andrew Hano
Susquehannock for Boys

I hoped you enjoyed this. It’s just another example of how Camp Susquehannock provides multi-sport athletic development and confidence-based learning.

14 Feb 3 Sports Psychology Tips for Developing Confident Children

3 Sports Psychology Tips for Developing Confident Children

I want to share with you three simple things you can do to help your children build confidence in sports, social situations and at school. Award-winning writer Lisa Cohn and Youth Sports Psychology expert Dr. Patrick Cohn are co-founders of The Ultimate Sports Parent. They published an article which provides three simple tactics for helping your children develop confidence. As you read through this article keep in mind these tips can be applied to more than sports; you can adapt them to any other activity your children participates in. Enjoy!

Tip #1: Lower Expectations
You might not know that the high expectations of coaches and parents can cause children to feel pressured. Parents and coaches sometimes impose their own expectations on their children, with the intended goal of boosting their offspring’s confidence. But unfortunately, this often has the opposite effect.

For example, when we work with athletes and their parents, we help them understand that strict expectations — parents’ demands on how their children should perform — actually negatively affect the young athlete’s performance.

Athletes who have high levels of self-confidence end up excelling. We all want our athletes to feel fully confident at game time, but we must reel in our own expectations accordingly. Parents’ and coaches’ overly high expectations can cause athletes to focus too much on the results, rather than the experience. This often makes them feel frustrated, especially when they are not performing up to their own (and your) standards.

Tip #2: Watch What You Say
Here’s how it works: In their sincere effort to be supportive, parents and coaches often say things that kids interpret as expectations. For example, a Softball parent might say – with the very best intentions – to an athlete: “You should go 4-for-4 against this pitcher today.”

At first, this statement might appear supportive. It’s what parents should say to improve their athletes’ confidence, right? Wrong.

Many athletes do not interpret such well-meaning input this way. In fact, we have found that young players interpret such statements in surprising ways. Some athletes may think they need to be perfect and get a hit every time at-bat …if they don’t they are letting down their parent or coach.

This might sound like a stretch, but this is how the minds of young athletes work. Children internalize or adopt your high expectations, then become overly concerned or worried about getting a hit every time at-bat out of the fear of letting others down.

Tip #3: Emphasize Process Over Results
Be careful about the expectations you communicate to your young athletes. We suggest you instead identify more manageable goals or objectives that help children focus on the process.

For example, you can ask a Soccer player to maintain proper spacing or lead a teammate when passing. Your players can accomplish these important objectives more often than making a perfect pass every time.

If you as coaches or parents want to help your young athletes achieve their full potential in sports and reap the many benefits, be sure to acquaint yourself with these and many other mental game strategies to improve success.

I hope this gave you some ideas. None of these are earth-shattering techniques, they are simple common sense tips. And more often than not, the simple things usually have the greatest effect.

14 Feb College Coaches Recruiting Multi-Sport Athletes

College Coaches Recruiting Multi-Sport Athletes

Confidence, Teamwork, Competitiveness + Diversity Seen in Athletes Who Play Multiple Sports

ESPN HS released a story in their Recruiting Road series featuring college coaches’ responses to the issue of playing multiple sports vs. specialization and how they look at prospective recruits who play multiple sports. Please take a moment to read through this. Camp Susquehannock is devoted to offering a program of multi-sport athletic development and these college coaches seem to agree with us.

ESPN HS: How important do coaches view a recruit’s ability to play other sports besides Lacrosse?

John Paul (University of Michigan)
“There’s a huge cross-training benefit to an athlete playing more than one sport. Playing in more than one season helps simulate the amount of time and commitment you’ll have to spend as a college athlete. But most importantly, it gives athletes more chances to compete. We prefer athletes who have a burning desire to compete as much as possible.”

Dave Pietramala (Johns Hopkins University)
“We love two and three-sport athletes. The lessons learned, skills that are developed, and competitiveness that is revealed can only help a young man who is headed into Division I Lacrosse.”

Bill Tierney (University of Denver)
“I continuously recommend to young men to play more than just one sport in high school. First of all, any sport, including Lacrosse, can become boring if obsessed over for 12 months a year. Secondly, other sports help young men develop a skill set not available when working out on his own. Sacrifice for the team, teamwork, conditioning, confidence, handling defeat and victory, and time management are among the many things that can be gained by playing another sport. Strength, speed, agility and toughness can be enhanced by playing other sports as well. Clearly, however, the skills needed to be a premier player in Lacrosse must be constantly worked on. Therefore, even in the fall, while playing football or soccer, a young man should continue to work on his stick skills on Sundays and down time, since the beauty of the game is built upon the fact that a young man is only as good as the amount of effort he puts into his skills.”

Charley Toomey (Loyola University Maryland)
“We are, absolutely, looking for well-rounded athletes. We love kids who play Football, Hockey, Basketball, Wrestling and Soccer. Many times, they are captains of these teams in their junior or senior years, which helps them from a leadership standpoint as well.”

Jon Torpey (High Point University)
“While it is by no means a deal-breaker, we love to see kids who participate in more than one sport at the high school level. Having to play two or three sports in a year is beneficial for numerous reasons; one of the main ones being that the student-athlete is going to probably have an easier transition academically, socially and Lacrosse-wise because the lack of downtime builds a bridge to what life will be like as a college level athlete. Another reason we like two and three-sport athletes is because we feel as though they haven’t quite hit their full potential as a Lacrosse player. When 33 to 66 percent of your high school career has been focused on other sports, it can be hard to fully develop at each one. Most coaches believe that once they get that athlete for a whole year of development, their games will reach new heights, and, more often than not, in my experience that is true.”

Dave Webster (Dickinson College)
“We like to recruit athletes. I like to see young men play several sports in high school and I think they benefit from the experience. I think the potential for growth is greater when an athlete is challenged by multiple sports and coaches rather than being focused on just one sport year round. However, what we ultimately appreciate is that a young man makes his decision on what he feels is best for him and then commits to that decision.”

I hope you found this special report informative. As you can see, today’s coaches are truly interested in both well-rounded athletes and well-rounded young people. Camp Susquehannock helps develop not only solid multi-sport athletes but young confident, diverse, gritty young girls and boys.

14 Feb Eight Secrets of Grit and How It’s Developed at Camp Susquehannock

Eight Secrets of Grit and How It’s Developed at Camp Susquehannock

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again […] who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
-Theodore Roosevelt

What is grit? Where does it come from? Who has it? How do I get some? The word is used in an almost mythical fashion when describing those we admire.

When I think of grit, images of people I know experiencing situations of incredible resilience come to mind. For years I have participated in an extreme endurance sport known as adventure racing. Adventure racing is a sport that encompasses trekking/trail running, mountain biking, wilderness navigation, flat/whitewater paddling, rappelling/ascending and a variety of other mountaineering and athletic disciplines.

Teams consist of three to four individuals who race together for multiple days and sometimes weeks at a time with little or no sleep. They encounter Mother Nature at her best and her worst. Team members experience dehydration, trench foot, hunger, hypothermia, cramping, hallucinations and just about any other kind of physical and mental ailment you can think of in an effort to finish the race.

My friend Teri Schneider is a fellow adventure racer who has won IRONMAN championships, and is also the author of Dirty Inspirations: Lessons from the Trenches of Extreme Endurance Sports. She characterizes adventure racing as such: “If doing a lot of IRONMAN races pretty fast was like getting a B.S. in endurance sports, adventure racing would be the PhD.”

Bottom line: adventure racers are some of the grittiest people I have ever met; it’s an honor and privilege to be a member of this club. As an adventure racer I have witnessed and experienced situations that have required tremendous amounts grit. And when I reflect on these examples, I draw an immediate parallel to the lessons I learned at Camp Susquehannock, the place that created the foundation of my multi-sport diversification and grit.

Camp Susquehannock prides itself in developing confident young girls and boys. As this confidence grows, children begin to develop self-reliance, independence, character, mental fortitude and an inherent passion for life and trying new things. And when you toss all this in a blender you get GRIT!

Grit isn’t fancy, eloquent or fake;
Susquehannock isn’t eloquent or fake either
…and it’s certainly not fancy!

Here are the eight secrets of grit and how it is developed at Camp Susquehannock…

It’s OK to Fail
People with grit don’t mind failing. In fact, they welcome it. They know this temporary setback is a learning experience. When children come to Camp Susquehannock they are encouraged to expand their limits and try things they have never done before.

Upon arrival, campers spend the first two days being evaluated on their athletic ability, experience and maturity. Teams are created consisting of children with similar skill sets, across multiple levels. These teams learn and practice together, compete together and experience level-appropriate challenges as they are pushed to try new things and develop new skills.

As we all know, children develop at different rates, so if they were simply assembled by age group there would always be kids with noticeable physical, athletic and mental advantages. As a result, the less-skilled children could see themselves at a disadvantage and therefore reluctant to participate; which would lead to an apprehension towards trying new things. The fear of failure, thought of being “inferior,” and being embarrassed is paralyzing. Not to mention, the more advanced children wouldn’t be challenged enough.

However, when campers of a similar skill set are pushed to try new things as a team, the fear of failure is significantly reduced. Why? Because everyone will struggle with the same challenges and fail a few times until they get it right. Every time this happens a child’s apprehension towards trying new things gets smaller… and smaller… and smaller.

Here’s the best part: when campers finally do overcome a challenge, their confidence skyrockets, and they are on the road to developing grit. As the old saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed,: Try, try, try again.” Grit is the fine art of “try, try, try again.”

Answer the Bell
People with grit answer the bell! They show up every day, every week, every month without fail. They never make excuses as to why they can’t make it, even if they’re having a bad day, are discouraged, or intimidated by a challenge – they answer the bell.

Camp Susquehannock encourages a culture of participation and teaches campers to be accountable. It starts with simple things like making your bed, keeping your area tidy, cleaning your cabin, and cleaning your table in the Dining Hall.

This may not sound like much, but campers do it every day. Let’s face it, there are days when none of us want to do this and there are times when we make excuses or procrastinate… not at Susquehannock. It doesn’t matter if they are feeling lazy, missing home or had a disagreement with a friend, they have to answer the bell and participate.

Developing consistency through completing these seemingly small tasks every day is the foundation to developing grit. Answering the bell – even when the desire isn’t strong – invariably seasons a child and exercises the “grit muscle.”

You break the habit of making excuses,
and all tasks begin to seem a bit easier.

Get In The Game
Too many people sit on the sidelines of life and let the world pass them by. People develop grit out of innate ability and acquired experience. To this day I can remember being a camper at Susquehannock and my counselors encouraging us to “get in the game.” There were some sports I had never done before but it was the same for most campers on my team.

However, it didn’t matter. We were encouraged by our counselors, coaches and teammates to get in the game and help the team. It didn’t matter if you lacked a certain skill or ability, the team still needed you! And when you played a sport you were good at, you encouraged those who were less proficient.

Some children arrive at Susquehannock and start out sitting in the back hoping they don’t have to participate in activities that are new to them. Camp Susquehannock gets kids in the game. Campers learn that in life, as in sports, there is a role for everyone. As such they are never afraid to get in the game. Children and adults of Camp Susquehannock don’t sit on the sidelines of life, they get in the game, just like people with grit.

Put The Team First
One of the things that keep gritty people pushing forward is their team; they refuse to let their team down. They look to fill the needs of the team, as opposed to their personal goals or stat sheet.

Competition is a series of ups and downs, and that is the only constant. Individuals who lack grit tend to give up when momentum shifts against them. They don’t stick it out because they don’t realize they are part of a team, often believing they are the team! At Susquehannock we know there will be an ebb and flow, there will be good times and bad times – that’s life!

A team is not just people you play a sport with. A team can be your family members, friends, co-workers, cabin-mates and counselors. However, when kids know they are part of a team and that team pushes through challenges together, those downs aren’t a crisis. The more challenges they face together the easier it is to overcome the next one. As a result, they push through challenges one after another, impervious of momentum shifts – this contributes mightily to the development of grit!

Become Selfless
In order to answer the bell, get in the game, embrace the benefit of failure, the proper attitude is crucial. People with grit have a great attitude because they are selfless. Think about it, do you know anyone who is selfless and has a bad attitude?

The only time we are unhappy is during our more selfish moments:
“I’m hot; I’m tired…”
“They weren’t nice to me; they disrespected me…”
“If these people would just listen to me everything would be fine…”
“I wonder if they like me…”
The list goes on and on.

People with grit put others first,
they help make everyone around them better.

Gritty people aren’t immune to bad days, but they know how to deal with them appropriately. They may be tired, cramping, frustrated and on the verge of quitting, and yet they don’t. So what do they do? They take their mind off of themselves by finding a way to pick up a teammate who is also down.

Parents are probably greatest examples of selfless individuals. A parent could have lost their job, got in a fight with their partner, or is just having a crappy day… all they want to do is get home and relax. But as soon as they hear their child is sick or injured, they forget about themselves and address the challenge by flexing that grit muscle.

Camp Susquehannock models a culture of looking after cabin-mates and teammates. Campers encourage and pick each other up when things go sideways and the incredible staff of counselors provide some of the greatest examples of this commitment I have seen. Despite what you may think, counselors can have some pretty rough days. They are pushed and pulled in different directions and there are times when I’m sure they feel like packing it in – but they don’t.

Instead, they look to pick up the camper who is home sick, who needs help with their jump shot, who needs the encouragement to swim the length of Tripp Lake. The staff models selflessness and this gets them through the tough times. More importantly, they are setting a great example for campers, as they are the embodiment of being selfless.

Take the Leap and Jump In
People with grit are always willing to jump in and take the leap. They know every leap can be daunting, but it’s also an opportunity to open new doors, find new passions and accomplish new goals. It makes them more diverse, resilient and independent.

The jewel of Camp Susquehannock is our beautiful spring-fed Tripp Lake. It’s a place where we cool off after clinics and games, a place for socializing and a place where we canoe, kayak and sail boats. However, before a camper can enjoy the boating activities they must be able to swim the length of the entire lake. This rite of passage can certainly be intimidating. However, once you do it you have opened the door to new opportunities and new experiences which light the embers of independence, resilience and confidence. This is a stepping stone to grit!

It’s OK to Get Dirty, and to Laugh at Yourself
People with grit realize life isn’t a fashion show, and it’s certainly not perfect. They understand mistakes will be made and that you have to be willing to get a little dirty while plowing through life’s challenges.

They are not self-conscious, they don’t take themselves too seriously and they can wholeheartedly laugh at themselves. Their ability to walk through life while a little dirty and to laugh at themselves is their key to sanity. It’s a reflection of their inherent confidence and selflessness. They are more consumed with life in the moment than the thought of what others may be thinking.

Show up at Camp Susquehannock any day and you will find
children and adults living life in the moment.

When a group of people try new things together, make mistakes together, live as a family together and experience growth together, their walls of emotional protection come down. This is when the fun begins… it’s why you will find children laughing in the cabin, sitting in a circle on the grass having a discussion about any number of topics, dressing up in crazy outfits for a camp celebration (or just because!), all the while building bonds that will last a lifetime.

This is a skill that will benefit them for the remainder of their life. We all need to remember to laugh at ourselves and be willing to get a little dirty. It enables us to get through what life throws at us and ultimately build our grit.

Nothing Left to Do but Smile, Smile, Smile
These traits aren’t something I discovered through laborious study and research. They are simply based on my observations, interactions and involvement with some truly gritty people. This is a reflection of what I experienced growing up at Camp Susquehannock, and the growth I see there on a daily basis during the summer.

If a child can understand these lessons, they will answer the bell day after day, and will possess the greatest gift of GRIT. Smiling; simply smiling!


14 Feb Six Traits of Confidence Children Develop at Camp Susquehannock

Six Traits of Confidence Children Develop at Camp Susquehannock

ConfidenceWhy do some have it and others don’t?
What makes a confident person? Are people simply born with confidence?
There is no simple answer to these questions but we do know that confidence can be developed, and needs to be developed, especially in children.

Confidence is the springboard to success in so many different aspects of life and those who have truly developed this trait seem to possess a certain aura.

Truly self-earned confidence, that originates from deep within, is very different from false, egotistical confidence.

People with true confidence carry themselves in a very different manner than those who simply pretend to be confident.

At The Susquehannock Camps we pride ourselves in developing confident girls and boys. Here are few traits we strive to develop in children through our program of athletic development and confidence-based learning…

Confident people believe they can make things happen and they take responsibility. They don’t blame setbacks and failures on others. They don’t make excuses. They don’t blame a poor grade on the teacher, a loss on a referee, or poor performance in a game on the field conditions. They accept responsibility for the situation and move on.

Confident people are diligent. They don’t give up at the first sign of a problem or failure. They see their current inability to do something as nothing more than a challenge, rather than an excuse to give up. They concentrate on the objective at hand, learn from their mistakes, create new strategies and adapt to the situation.

Confident people are action-oriented; they have a plan and then act on it. They don’t need the acceptance of others or assume others will handle it. They take the initiative to get things done and they do it now!

Proper Attitude
Confident people have the right attitude; there isn’t time to whine or complain. They aren’t frightened of a challenge and say, “this can’t be done.” They always look for ways to complete the task. They are appreciative and value the effort of their teammates or co-workers. They believe the most avaricious thing you can do is to be selfless in the short-term.

Confident people accept other people for who they are, and look for their strengths and positives. They want to be around people with assets, skills and personalities that vary from their own. They realize the acceptance of others will broaden their skill set and knowledge.

Confident people are resourceful; they don’t get upset because they don’t have the best equipment, teammates, field conditions or support. Confident people figure out a way to adapt, or succeed by digging deep within themselves and get by without it (demonstrating the grit of a “hardy soul,” which we will cover in a future message…).

These are just a few of the many things children of all ages will learn at Camp Susquehannock. That being said, if they only leave Camp having further developed these six traits, their lives will be much improved as a result.

14 Feb The Golden Recipe for Success in Sports, Learning and Life

The Golden Recipe for Success in Sports, Learning and Life

I want to share with you a wonderful article by Andy Jones-Wilkins. Andy is a lifelong educator, coach and ultra-marathoner (a footrace longer than 26.2 miles). While at a teaching conference he was asked to name the three most critical things he wants his students to graduate with – we all can take his reply to heart. It is a message that embodies and reflects much of what Camp Susquehannock teaches and represents.
Here it is – enjoy!

Last week, at a meeting I attended with an experienced group of educational leaders, the topic of discussion eventually centered in on a very basic essential question:
“What three things — skills, attributes, temperaments, whatever — do you want your students to graduate high school with?”


The facilitator, knowing he had captured a moment and struck a chord with his question, gave us very little time to think through our answers. Within a minute of posing his question, he pushed us for our answers. And, as seems to always happen to me, he pointed to me first and asked,

“Andy, tell us your three things.”

I didn’t even flinch. I am not sure why, but the answer came to me instantly.

“Confidence, Resilience and Hope.”

Ever since I started teaching 28 years ago, the students I’ve known who’ve embodied these three attributes have inspired and motivated me. Likewise, the long distance runners I’ve gotten to know over the past two decades that have been confident, resilient and hopeful have been those who’ve personified what it means to be a successful runner and a successful person. In essence, Confidence, Resilience and Hope comprise, to me, a perfect recipe in education, running and life.

You know the confident runner when you see him. Self-assured, relaxed, carrying a wry smile, the confident runner is not a faker. The most confident runners I know take calculated risks, but also do so while eliminating all variables. They carry their confidence in their heads and in their hearts as well as in their bodies, and when they toe the line they are always ready.

The resilient runner shows her scars. She has been through more ups and downs than the rest of us care to think about and she has come out the other side standing upright and strong. The resilient runner, like the resilient student, has had her fair share of failures and disappointments, and yet she hasn’t given in. She’s remained steadfast, stalwart and true. The resilient runner is that one who gets out of her chair at mile 82 and forges on — one foot in front of the other until she’s done.

Hope and the hopeful runner are always a bit more fleeting. While confidence and resilience can be seen and touched, hope needs to be felt. As such, it is the most capricious of the three things, but also the most purposeful and relevant. The hopeful runner and student have a spring in their step tempered by caution in their voice. Hope can be such a deep visceral emotion that it requires balance, focus and a fair amount of risk. And when we get it right, it’s awesome!

And so, to me, Confidence, Resilience and Hope truly represent the Golden Recipe. While not every day out there will be perfect, if we can move forward armed with these three things we can run healthy and happy, and not only become better runners, but better versions of ourselves.

Andy’s thoughtful response to the question runs parallel to our philosophy at Camp Susquehannock and to what we hope each child returns home with at the end of every summer. I hope you enjoyed this bit of information!

09 Feb Creating a Champion Mindset – The Key to Success in Athletics and Life

Creating a Champion Mindset – The Key to Success in Athletics and Life

Long-time trainer and sports performance coach Chris Carmichael recently published an article about developing the mindset of a champion. He discovered most athletes have one or two established set of attitudes and those with a growth mindset tend outperform all others, not only in sports, but in life.

The best athletes in the world aren’t always the strongest and fastest. While a high level of athleticism is a prerequisite for reaching the upper levels of competition, champions often perform beyond their ability in all aspects of life because they are inspired by the belief their best performances are still ahead of them. No matter your current level of athleticism, you can absolutely improve your performance by developing a championship mindset!

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

Stanford University Psychology professor Carol Dweck’s mindset concept identifies two sets of attitudes: Growth vs. Fixed

A person with a fixed mindset believes talent, ability and intelligence are unchangeable traits. These individuals focus on simply being proficient, avoiding challenges that might prove otherwise and resisting change or new opportunities.

A person with a growth mindset believes talent, ability and intelligence can develop through practice, hard work and learning.

Most successful people have a natural tendency toward growth mindsets. They inherently understand that training and practice (ie. learning) leads to improvement. However, some people who understand how training and practice works are still motivated by a fear of failure – a key hallmark of a fixed mindset – instead of the opportunity for success.

What a Winning Mindset Looks Like

An athlete with a fixed mindset will concede he or she isn’t the strongest athlete on a team and is happy to just do his or her job, letting others try to “get the win” or make the big play. The drive to come up with other ways to win is what a growth mindset is about:


An inquisitive person asks questions and challenges conventional ideas about training, practice, nutrition and performance. They are not satisfied with, “This is how we’ve always done it.” This doesn’t mean they jump from one method or strategy to another on a whim, but rather they examine new ideas that can be applied to their training or practice regimen. This is also an important quality to look for in a coach.


Those with a growth mindset view relationships with athletes, coaches and performance-related experts as opportunities to gain more knowledge. These people are less “cliquey” because they welcome new voices and aren’t intimidated by those who may be faster or stronger than they are. Similarly, they are quick to share information with less-experienced athletes.

Daring + Bold

“Fortune favors the bold.” Faced with identical circumstances those with a growth mindset see opportunities to succeed or win before they consider the risks of failing. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset recognize the same scenarios – the perfect time to attack, shoot and score – but perceive the risk before the opportunity, ultimately choosing the safety of status quo to the risk of failing.

Sometimes being bold isn’t about being highly aggressive. It can also be seen in an athlete’s willingness to give everything they have on the field or court, or to “empty the tank.” Athletes with a growth mindset are problem solvers and optimists; they will do everything they can to avoid “giving in” or quitting.

Great Teammate

People with a growth mindset aren’t intimidated by the success of others. They don’t view helping a teammate improve as a negative reflection on their own abilities. They aren’t concerned about ceding their position (real or imagined) in the starting lineup. Similarly, when they win they are genuinely appreciative of the others who helped, and quick to thank each of them personally.

Love the Process as Much/More than the Outcome

Those with a growth mindset love to win and accomplish personal goals, but they also love to train and practice. They maintain a long-range view on a season in which games are the mile markers, not the destination. They are also willing to take on challenges with a moderate-to-high risk of failure. The potential to succeed in the face of significant obstacles is motivating, not threatening.

All the characteristics of a championship mindset apply to one’s school, work, career and relationships as much as one’s sports. The best students, entrepreneurs and employees are open to new ideas, they are collaborative, they are willing to take risks, and they are happiest when the team succeeds. Great personal relationships are built by valuing your teammates every mile of the journey, learning and adapting as you change over time and finding genuine fulfillment in seeing others succeed.

Take some time today to evaluate your own mindset and become confident in all aspects of your life!