17 Feb Former NBA Coach Lionel Hollins on Why Sports Specialization is Overrated

Former NBA Coach Lionel Hollins on Why Sports Specialization is Overrated

Please take a moment to watch this brief video with Lionel Hollins. He is the father of four children, a former NBA Champion, All-Star and All Defensive First Teamer. He was the Head Coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and is now an Assistant Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers.

He firmly believes specialization is overrated and talks throughout the video about how young athletes are heavily pressured by their parents to keep playing a sport they are not passionate about. He believes this pressure burns children out and prohibits them from playing a sport they may actually be better suited for.

Camp Susquehannock takes great pride in developing athleticism and confidence via multi-sport athletic development. If you have any questions or would like to talk about sending your child to Camp Susquehannock please feel free to contact me directly!


17 Feb How to Build Mental Toughness and Have Fun While Doing It

How to Build Mental Toughness and Have Fun While Doing It

When most people think of the term “mentally tough,” images of stone-faced dispassionate men and women serving as Army Rangers, Navy SEALs or Green Berets grinding through a tough moment seem to come to mind. I’ve trained with and competed against some of these individuals, and in most cases this is the farthest thing from the truth!

In reality, individuals who possess mental toughness tend to have an incredible sense of humor. They care deeply about others and their ability to laugh through tough times is simply a reflection of their true mental state. It is this mental state that is tough.

The more you put yourself in this mental state, the more permanent it becomes. It is a tool that can be used to endure pain, control self-discipline, accept challenges, venture into the unknown and enjoy life as it is presented – no matter what is presented!

Our ability to build and enhance these characteristics within ourselves will ultimately determine the level of our mental toughness.

One of our goals at Camp Susquehannock is to send children home walking a little taller, smiling a bit brighter, laughing with life and carrying with them a sense of humor. If they return home doing this you know they have built some mental toughness.

So… how do you build mental toughness and have fun while doing it?

First, as our Director of Operations Trish Kittredge says, you need to “embrace the suck.”

Can I say that? Oh well, I just did!

That’s right, you need to look forward to those moments you envision will be lousy. You need to be openly proud of the fact that you are about to take on and endure a challenge. When you do this, you take the energy right out of the situation and you own it. It becomes yours.

We do this on a daily basis at Susquehannock: campers play new sports and try new things every single day. We get them excited to do it before they even begin. This gets them looking forward to things they may otherwise think are intimidating and no fun.

Second, you must have the mindset that “taking the path of least resistance” is a non-starter. Next time you are working on your “to do list,” move the most challenging tasks to the top of the list. Tackle the stuff you hate to do right off the bat: work out as soon as you wake up, before you even eat breakfast … park as far as you can from the entrance of the grocery store, even if it’s raining … go for a run or a walk when it is raining or cold, instead of sitting inside and waiting for the next sunny day.

I had someone ask me about the indoor gymnasium on campus. I told them we don’t have one.
They went on to ask: “What do you do when it rains?”
I told them we go out in the rain and play. We get muddy. We laugh. We even swim in the lake!
Taking the path of least resistance is not an option.

Finally, you need to be able to laugh in moments when you may otherwise be discouraged. You need to laugh when things aren’t going your way or when things are about to get really hard.

I call this laughing with life

Laugh within the moment. Laugh within the situation you are about to get into.

We had a weekend in October when a group of students from inner city Philadelphia visited Susquehannock to experience the unknown, tackle new challenges and work through a variety of team-building exercises. It was scary for these kids.

They were about to experience 30 degree nights in unheated cabins, lukewarm showers and new challenges while battling fatigue far away from home. They were able to get through it to have an experience they will never forget because our staff had them laughing when they arrived, laughing prior to the events and laughing through the experience. They were laughing with life!

And here’s the best part…
It was raining and 40 degrees on the final day; two of our staff members decided it would be fun to swim in the lake, so they put on their bathing suits and headed to the Waterfront. Now, they didn’t just jump in and get right back out – they went off the diving board, then got out and went down the slide, and then off the diving board again!

The visiting campers watched this and cheered – they thought it was great! But do you know what these two polar bears were doing prior to jumping in the lake …while they were swimming in the lake …while they were freezing trying to dry off?

You guessed it…
They were laughing with life!

At Camp Susquehannock we learn to laugh with life – have a great day!

16 Feb Pro Beach Volleyball Player on Kids Playing Multiple Sports

Pro Beach Volleyball Player on Kids Playing Multiple Sports

Here is a short video featuring Kerri Walsh Jennings, professional Beach Volleyball player. It was shared by the Positive Coaching Alliance. I hope you enjoy it!

Kerri Walsh Jennings (@KerriLeeWalsh) is a professional Beach Volleyball player on Team USA. Walsh Jennings attended Stanford University on a scholarship before playing professionally, and is now a five-time Olympian, entering her first Games on the USA indoor Volleyball team, and a four-time Olympic champion. She is the most decorated Beach Volleyball Olympian of all-time, having won three gold and one bronze medal in Beach Volleyball. She has also had major success in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and World Tour, with 24 FIVB awards and honors under her belt since 2002.Walsh Jennings speaks to her belief that young athletes should play multiple sports while growing up. She says that the value of playing multiple sports is “physical, mental, and spiritual,” as it pushes athletes to grow and develop across different platforms. She states three main reasons why sports diversity is key:

Single-sport athletes:
+ have a higher chance of burning out
+ have a higher chance of developing over-use injuries
+ will never learn the full potential of their body

Kerri speaks to her experience playing multiple sports growing up until high school where she only played Volleyball and Basketball – the latter because she knew the cross training would make her better mentally and physically.

Walsh Jennings recommends that parents encourage their athletes to try multiple sports while growing up, so as to allow them to have a wide range of experiences and to more fully develop their skills.

I hope you found this video informative. Young athletes, and all children, need variety in their lives. They need sports to be fun and they need to develop their minds and bodies. Camp Susquehannock helps develop not only solid multi-sport athletes but young, confident, diverse, gritty young girls and boys.

If you have any questions about Camp Susquehannock please feel free to contact me. I can be reached at jbell@susquehannock.com or you can call me at (570) 967-2323.

16 Feb 5 Ways Active Children – and Parents – Can Prepare Their Immune System for Winter

5 Ways Active Children – and Parents – Can Prepare Their Immune System for Winter

As I sit down to write this message, it is currently 31 degrees and windy here in Bethlehem, PA. It appears winter is here for good, and with winter comes cold and flu season.

I am not sure why winter has to be cold and flu season. I have never been one to take a flu shot and I don’t understand why we tend to get sick in winter as opposed to the other seasons.

Part of me thinks it’s a state of mind. We can conform to societal norms and prepare ourselves for the inevitability of sickness, or, ignore the message and choose to be healthy!

This choice is closely tied to our lifestyle. Think about it: the warmer months are loaded with exercise, restful nights and an abundance of quality fruits and vegetables. Winter arrives and we tend stay indoors, eat more brown foods and simply wallow around during the dark days.

The good news: you have a choice! As winter approaches, make the conscious decision for you and your family to remain in a healthy state of mind and lifestyle.

Olympian Mara Abott, a contributing editor for Carmichael Training Systems, offers these five tips for remaining healthy this winter…

Eat For Immunity

Cold salads, green smoothies, and celery sticks seem a touch less appealing when munched while bundled up in a wool sweater, but it’s important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables year-round to maintain your immune system’s strength. Seasonal finds like carrots, sweet potatoes or winter squash, and hearty greens like kale, chard, or collard greens are all loaded with vitamins and minerals – and many can even be locally sourced throughout the winter.

One time-saving idea is to prepare a big pot of a veggie-loaded soup or a pan of roasted vegetables on the weekend, so that it just takes a quick reheat to enjoy nutritious meals or snacks throughout the workweek. I often make quick, lazy-woman winter soup by heating up some greens, a protein choice like tofu or leftover chicken, and some pasta or rice into a store-bought broth for a five-minute meal.

A strong-believing contingent will tell you that garlic has particularly strong immunity- boosting properties – and there is even some science to back up that theory. Toss extra garlic in your soups, stir-fries, and roasts for a double health-flavor boost.

Up Your Sleep and Recovery

Any time you increase your training load, your body needs extra rest in order to recover and benefit from the new strain. If you are sleep-deprived or otherwise depleted, your immune system will be depressed and less agile at fighting off opportunistic viruses.

This same principle applies to your nutritional habits. Try to be extra diligent about getting a recovery meal or drink in right after hard or long workouts to ameliorate the cumulative stress you are putting on your body. If you’re feeling under-the-weather, it might be a good idea to steer clear of nutritionally-fasted workouts as well – even if they are a regular part of your training program – in order to make sure you have enough energy to keep all systems running strong.

Stay Hydrated

It’s harder to remember to drink in a season that leaves post-exercise clothing more icy than soggy, but it’s still important to make sure you are on top of your hydration during winter training. Staying hydrated not only helps to keep up your athletic performance, it helps you maintain your body temperature, keeps mucous flowing to trap germs, helps your body flush out waste materials that could compromise your immunity. Our fluid losses don’t only happen through sweat, but also through respiration – and dry winter weather can exacerbate that effect. Make sure you drink before, during, and after your workouts, whether or not there are puddles of sweat involved.

Try To Get Some Fresh Air

There isn’t a lot of conclusive evidence that cold temperatures alone can get you sick, though they do present an additional physical stress. It’s possible that staying cooped up in a gym, spinning studio, or kid-filled basement with lots of wintertime germs is even more threatening to your wintertime health.

When you can, try to take your workouts outside to breathe in some clean air – being outdoors can help reduce stress as well as decrease your exposure to germs. Icy roads and short days can make accomplishing outdoor workouts tougher in the winter. But when it is safe and possible to do so, take the opportunity to bundle up and get out in the sunshine (plus, you get Vitamin D!).

Rest Your Mind

Mental stress also has an impact on our ability to fight illness, and packed schedules seem be as much of a holiday tradition as wrapping presents. For myself this December, rather than committing to extra workouts I’m going to attempt the personal gift of caring for my mental health.

My goal is to spend at least 30 minutes each day dedicated to emotional recovery, whether that takes the form of journaling, taking a warm bath, taking a slow, purposeless neighborhood stroll, or – the hardest for me – sitting down and meditating. This is going to be a big challenge for me, as I confess I spent perhaps 30 minutes total during November engaged in restorative practices. I know all too well that my performance depends on both my mental and physical fitness – so I see this as an important opportunity to make gains in both happiness and strength.

As I mentioned earlier, you have a choice as it relates to your health and your lifestyle. The “Rest Your Mind” section is particularly important. So much of our increased well-being during the summer at Susquehannock is due to unplugging from technology. Engaging in any of the activities listed above instead of mindlessly scrolling on devices would be a great choice for your mental health and winter well-being.

So: go outside and enjoy the winter! Get gritty! If you have a choice of exercising indoors or outdoors, always choose to get outside. A recent study at University of California San Diego found that people who exercised outdoors were more active and completed about 30 minutes more exercise each week than people who exercised indoors. (Sounds like your summer time activity level, doesn’t it?)

Don’t abandon healthy habits just because winter is here. Embrace the season!

16 Feb National Athletic Trainers’ Association Urges Parents to Postpone Specializing in One Sport as Long as Possible

National Athletic Trainers’ Association Urges Parents to Postpone Specializing in One Sport as Long as Possible

Camp Susquehannock has long supported the benefits of multi-sport diversification. However, for the past few decades the positive effects of multi-sport training have been overshadowed by a myth that single-sport specialization will pave the road to college scholarships and professional athletics. That tide is starting to change!

An article by Roni Caryn Rabin of The New York Times revealed some key points recently released by The National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

According to a leading organization of athletic trainers, too many children are risking injuries, even lifelong health problems, because they practice too intensively in a single sport, and parents should set limits on their participation. New recommendations issued by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association urge parents to ensure that children and adolescents postpone specializing in one sport for as long as possible.

“Single-sports specialization is bordering on epidemic in terms of the risks it can pose, for physical injuries as well as the potential for negative psychological effects.”
-Tory Lindley, President N.A.T.A.

The advice arrives amid growing concern about a rise in athletic injuries among children engaging in tough training exercises. These regimens also can exact a psychological toll, increasing the risk that children and adolescents will burn out and quit sports altogether, the trainers’ group said.

“There is a myth that it takes a single-sport specialization to succeed. In fact, we’re learning from research and anecdotal evidence that there is actually an opportunity for athleticism to improve if you expose the body to different sports and different movements.”
-Tory Lindley, President N.A.T.A

As educators, parents and coaches it is our responsibility to help children grow, develop and mature in a safe, fun environment. It has now become apparent that children who spend too much time in one-sport specialization may be at risk for serious injury and possible lifelong health issues. Let’s use multi-sport diversification as a tool to develop confident, gritty, healthy and athletic young children!

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.