Michael’s Summer with Challenger Sports
Week 1 – Federalsburg, Maryland
This was the first camp of my summer and the first time I’d be leading sessions on my own. I was on a three man camp, with one first year coach as well as a returner. While they took the older kids, I was coaching two children aged 3 and 4 for an hour and a half every day.
They loved playing duck-duck-goose and adding in their own animals kept them laughing! As a coach, you will come across a variety of challenges. For me this week, it was finding soccer games and drills that you would be able to do with such a small group of children.
After I’d done the session with the youngsters, I’d go and help the other coaches and play in all of the games. It was a great introduction for me to coaching soccer as I was able to deal with the different age groups every day and get to know how to coach them and communicate with them effectively.
My hosts for the first week were wonderful people. We were living on Seaberry Farm with the parents and the two children. Although it was quite a quiet week with the children going to bed early, we still had a great time.
Week 2 – Falls Church, Virginia
In the second week I was still with the 2 coaches from the first week but we were joined by 4 others, including Alice Kelk. I was staying near Washington DC with another coach and we had soccer pitches out in the back yard and a private lake just down the road. The field where we were all coaching for the week was the college (American) football field, which looked really cool.
The highlight of camp that week was coaching a kid called Michael Turner. Odd coincidence! One of the girls on camp was one of the best players I’ve coached since being out here and that includes those in the older age groups.
The other coach and I had the chance to go into DC to see all the monuments and the museums. Americans take patriotism to a different level in comparison to the UK. The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial were incredible sights.
Week 3 – Alexandria, Virginia
This was the week of 4th July; Independence Day. The majority of coaches had chosen to take the week off a go to the beach but I chose to work. The benefit of this was that we were working a 4 day week and were near Washington, so I had the chance to go into the capital on the Friday for the celebrations.
Washington was packed that day but the first thing I did after getting onto the train into DC was find somewhere to watch the World Cup. I ended up in a cigar tavern watching the France v Germany game with a disinterested couple. After having a good look around, going through Chinatown, seeing a street jazz band perform, and enjoying a little country music festival, I headed down to the Lincoln Memorial to find a spot for the fireworks. Unfortunately a family to sat right in front of me with a huge pram so I couldn’t see very well! Still it was a great experience.
Week 4 – Annapolis, Virginia
The fourth week I was in Annapolis, meeting coaches I would be with for the next 2 and 3 weeks. We had a great time and the host even had a swimming pool.
I was coaching 8 kids on camp that week and I gave extra ‘World Cup Points’ for anyone that put Arsenal related decorations on their soccer ball.
Week 5 – Washington, Virginia
The next week I was in a place called Rappahannock County in Washington, Virginia. It is a very rural area with a small population, which meant that the camp for that week was only half a day rather than a full day.
Living there for the week was a stark contrast to the previous weeks, with a bear that had been stuffed being the first thing that greeted me in my host’s house.
On camp I was in charge of two children who were five years old, similar to my first week. I would then go and help the other 2 coaches.
This was the first week that I had done coaches challenges, where the kids vote for who they thought would win the competitions and at the end of the week, the losing coach would have the ice bucket tipped on them. I lost.
This week, the kids got really involved in Wacky Wednesday, where they had to wear something wacky and bring stuff in for the coaches to wear as well. I had the delight of my host’s daughter giving me a pink Mohawk and a dress to wear for the day.
I had great hosts again this week, and I also got to go to the nearby national park to look for deer and bears.
On the Saturday, all the coaches and hosts went to Kings Dominion Theme Park for the day which was a great day even though I don’t like rollercoasters.
Week 6 – Falls Church, Virginia
In week 6 I was was located relatively close to D.C. The hosts had 3 kids, with the oldest being on the football camp and the youngest only being 3 and half. They were a lovely family and although we did not get up to much because of the age of the kids, I still had a lot of fun.
The child who was on my camp was obsessed with Angry Birds and as soon as he came home from camp would be playing it straight away. It did get quite tedious as he wouldn’t pay attention to the parents or anyone unless it was related to the game but if you managed to get his attention, he was a pleasure to be around.
Camp this week was in Fairfax County and Challenger Sports have an agreement with camps in that area that kids could go back to the rec centre each day and do an afternoon of swimming rather than carry on with soccer. This made my job a lot easier, as once we finished for lunch, we were able to relax in the swimming pool while the kids played.
This was one of my favourite families and if I decide to come back next year, I am hoping I’ll be able to go and visit them.
Week 7 – York, Pennsylvania
My first week in Pennsylvania was a good one, I got the chance to go into Philadelphia and my hosts made me a delicious Sunday roast; the first I’d had all summer.
It was also the first week that it had rained for me on camp, which was quite good going since I’d been here 6 weeks already. It was quite a quiet week compared to others, which was a nice change of pace.
One of the things that we did was go to an Amish community and get a carriage ride around the area.
All in all I had a lot of fun out in the US and I’m looking forward to going back soon.
Written by Michael Turner – BA (Hons) Football Business & Finance student at UCFB