Every summer parents and campers tell us that our counselors are part of what makes our overnight camp such an incredible experience. In particular, they mention the teaching and coaching of our specialty counselors. Specialty counselors run and coach sports activities, teach visual and performing arts, and instruct at our waterfront and outdoor adventure areas. Each fall and winter members of our administrative team travel throughout the United States and across the world interviewing adults who understand how to teach their activity area to Kenwood and Evergreen’s campers, while also helping our children gain technical proficiency in vital 21st century skills – skills like critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, creativity, resilience, and collaboration.
In recent blogs I’ve written profiles about our heads of Tennis, Basketball, Soccer, Ropes, Film Making, Ceramics, Music and more. This week it is my pleasure to introduce you to Sarah Valacer, the head of our Girls’ Lacrosse program. Sarah is a deeply dedicated member of our team, and we are so fortunate to have her as a part of our Camp family. Below are Sarah’s thoughts on working in our intentional summer camp environment, and how she uses lacrosse as a tool for teaching 21st century skills to our campers.
My name is Sarah Valacer and I have been privileged enough to have the Evergreen Lacrosse Specialist the last two years. Lacrosse was a brand new sport at Camp the first year I was hired. It has been an awesome experience watching the lacrosse program develop in such a short time period, and I love helping both the girls and boys begin to learn the sport.
Before joining the Kenwood and Evergreen community, I played Women’s Lacrosse in college. I also have coach multiple age levels from 5 year olds to high school. Currently, I coach a Varsity Girl’s Lacrosse team in Groton, Massachusetts and am heavily involved in the youth program in the town of Groton as well. Sports, especially Lacrosse, are an important part of my life and an absolute passion.
Being able to bring this passion to Kenwood & Evergreen has been an exciting experience. The environment of this summer camp in New Hampshire is perfect for a sport like lacrosse, even though most campers weren’t familiar with it until recently. An Evergreen lacrosse session is all about trying something new and out of their comfort zone for many campers.
We start by teaching the basic skills the girls will need to play the game. Rather than telling them every aspect of the game, we ask them use their problem solving skills to figure out the best techniques. I find that if I can guide them to figure out which hand they feel more comfortable holding the stick, or which is the best angle with which to pick up the ball off the ground, that they retain the information better. Lacrosse requires that players make quality decisions quickly. It’s also crucial that players have good communication between each other in order to collaborate in one unified effort.
A lacrosse session at Camp often ends with numerous team games that require the campers to use the discrete skills that we worked on during the practice. Repeatedly working on skills, whether they are hard skills like cradling and shooting, or softer ones like collaboration and communication, is the only method for improving as a player or teammate.
The lacrosse program at Camp continues to grow as girls skills grow over each year. This past summer we were able to attend two U15 tournaments and one U13 tournament. The previous summer we would have not had enough interest amongst our girls to go to a lacrosse tournament, which means the interest is growing rapidly with our campers of all ages! I am proud of how this program is growing at Kenwood and Evergreen, and can’t wait to see what it becomes in the next few summers!
We want to thank Sarah for all of her hard work and passion in helping to make lacrosse a sport that so many of our campers have fallen in love. Our coaches and teachers do such an incredible job teaching both technical and 21st century skills to our campers each summer.
Camps Kenwood and Evergreen in New Hampshire is the 7-week summer home for children from around the world interested in playing sports, making lasting friendships, creating incredible art projects, and mastering the 21st century skills they will need to become tomorrow’s leaders and innovators.
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