Discussing How Our Summer Camp Teaches 21st Century Skills On The Tennis Court
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. If you'd like to see a complete list of our activities please click here.
In last Tuesday’s blog I wrote about Tom Shanks, head of soccer at our summer camp in NH. This week it is my pleasure to introduce you to Katherine "Cass" Walsh, one of our tennis instructors. Cass lives during the non-camp season in Surrey, England, and spends her summer days on our 11 clay tennis courts.
Cass and Fernando teaching tennis to a group of 9-year old campers
Katherine (Kass) Walsh
Level 2 Tennis Coach
Basic Line Umpire
I have worked at a number of different tennis clubs teaching children of a wide range of abilities and ages. This winter, while I wait to return to Camp, I am working for the LTA High Performance Tennis Academy in London alongside many other world-renowned tennis players.
I believe that every child should have access to tennis lessons. This fall and winter I am a part of a team that provides free tennis lessons to schools in the local community. Children who potentially would have never had access to the sport are therefore able to learn a new skill.
When partaking in sports children can show completely different personality traits to those seen in the classroom. Every child is an individual and just like within the classroom some will be more skilled at certain aspects of a sport than others. When I am on the tennis court I am very mindful of the fact that children learn at different speeds and positive reinforcements throughout the session are pivotal. Praising a child not just on their sporting ability but their thoughtfulness, effort and fair play is crucial. Children can gain huge amounts of confidence by playing sports, and an engaging, encouraging and exciting coach plays a huge role within this.
Learning to play tennis is much more than just hitting the ball across the net and into the court. Within tennis lessons I try to incorporate a number of crucial life/21st century skills such as leadership, creativity, independence and collaboration. I like presenting campers with challenges such as inventing their own tennis court games. These games are often incorporated into a lesson. and are an excellent way of engaging all levels of players into the session. The novice or technically weakest players often have the best ideas, and by using their game they can leave the lesson feeling that they have achieved a level of leadership and group recognition for their creativity. Our more advanced players hone their tennis skills over the course of the 7-week camp season with group and individual practices, and when they travel to play other camps in tournaments. They learn how to develop a strategy for each match and each opponent, while also understand the importance of persevering through the tough moments each time that they step on the court. Success is when our campers increase their resilience and critical thinking/problem solving skills as they become more talented tennis players.
Developing a child’s sporting or technical skills are without a doubt important, however, building trust between you and a child is so much more crucial. As coaches we are potentially mentors and role models, and we have the opportunity to help children believe in themselves. I see that as a coach’s biggest and most important job.
One of the ways our campers our campers made lasting friendships is by playing sports together
Sports are predominantly about having fun whilst learning a new skill. When children are provided with a fun, safe and engaging environment they have the mindset to thrive physically, socially and emotionally. It’s a privilege to work with children in the Kenwood and Evergreen environment, passing on my passion for tennis and watching them grow not only within themselves but also their sporting ability.
Check us back next week when I will be writing about Chris Straker, our long-time head of basketball.
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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