College/Camp Connection

Over the course of the camp, however long the sessions run, campers connected with the college counselors and the college counselors connected with the campers.

In order to link the college and the community, camp organizers must find programming to allow the campers to participate in on-campus programming such as a university play, a debate, or a sporting event.

In addition, camp administrators must also find opportunities for the college staff members and students to go off campus to reconnect with the camper in a community setting.

College sporting events are great vehicles for announcing that the campers are on hand to support the team. Children love to hear their names mentioned or see their group name on the scoreboard.

College students can give back to the community by volunteering to coach one of the camper’s teams for a day, organize a reading day at a local library, or help a youth coach at a game.

The aim of follow-up is to keep close ties with the college/university, community at large and with the individual campers who have surely connected to the college program throughout the camp.

Camp organizers can develop college clinics hosted throughout the year in order to continue to support the efforts of youth sport development and create an interest for the summer camp.

Commitment

Summer camps on a college campus can be a tremendous force in connecting a college with the community.

Demonstrating a commitment of sharing human resources (allowing coaches and student-athletes to assist with coaching a youth team or allowing college art majors to teach drawing to children), sharing physical resources (allow the young campers to perform a play on a college campus or organize the youth championships to be played at the college stadium), sharing a philosophy (allowing young children to understand the ideals of volunteerism, fair play, and life-long learning), and creating clinics and camps that will not only advance skill development but also connect children with role models.

Once camp is over the process of linking the college with the community begins again. The communication with youth agencies and college personnel must continue to flourish.

Camp organizers must evaluate the strengths and areas of improvement with camp programming. Most importantly, camp administrators must listen to the participants.

Administrators must determine what the young campers enjoyed and learned from, what the college students experienced through mentoring and connecting with youngsters in the community, what goals were achieved, and finally, how to continue to connect with the college and ultimately the community.

The link between college and youth in the community through summer camp programming can be far-reaching and powerful. The long-lasting result of this partnership is limitless.

Dr. Gina Gentile is associate professor of sports management and head soccer coach at Endicott College, Beverly, Mass.

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