NEW SPORTS CAMP LAUNCHING IN WINDSOR FOCUSES ON DEVELOPING KIDS FIRST, SKILL SECOND
Kevin Cougler, Founder and CEO of STEM Camp, a non-profit summer sports camp, has recently launched a new initiative in Southwestern Ontario called Sports Discovery Camp (SDC). Their mission? Make sports fun and enjoyable for all kids, while teaching values like confidence, teamwork, leadership, and respect.
“Too often sports camps are specialized in one sport and focused on developing athletic skills thereby trying to create high level athletes. Our differentiator is that SDC is focused on developing people first, skills second.” says Cougler.
A General Social Survey (GSS) Time-Use data showed that the national participation rate of Canadians age 15 years and older has been declining since 1992. In 2010, 7.2 million or 26% of Canadians age 15 and older participated regularly in sport. This represented a 17% decline over the previous 18 years, alluding to the fact that, somewhere along the line, sports lost their appeal.
In the US, we are seeing similar figures. The Washington Post reported on a study by the National Alliance for Youth Sports, that stated around 70 percent of kids in the United States stop playing organized sports by the age of 13 because “it’s just not fun anymore.”
According to an article in the Boston Globe, the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine reported that as many as 80 percent of kids quit sports by age 15.
“The reason these figures can be concerning is that we know how beneficial sports can be for kids. Not only do they provide the physical activity that kids need, but they also provide important mental health benefits, and contribute to the development of key social skills.” – Kevin Cougler, Founder and CEO of STEM Camp
SDC set off to do their own survey to understand what was important to parents and kids, specifically when it came to selecting a sports camp. Interestingly, physical exercise was ranked 12% lower than developing confidence. This suggests that while parents recognize the importance of staying active they still place a higher emphasis on helping their child to develop confidence at an early age. When their children were asked the same question, they responded overwhelmingly that having fun was their number one priority. Similarly, 95% of parents responded that having fun was the main reason they want their kids to play sports. When asked why they believe children quit sports by age 13, most parents felt it was due to not having fun anymore, not being good enough, or feeling too much pressure to win or do better. Based on this information, they decided to launch a pilot project in the summer of 2019 called Sports Discovery Camp.
“As a coach of several sports in my personal life I see kids turned off of sport too often simply because they can’t throw a ball as accurately as someone else their own age. We need to recognize that most of our children will not be playing professional sports when they get older and that developing basic human skills such as confidence, respect and leadership will give them the best chance to succeed in life” concluded Cougler.
Sports Discovery Camp is a weekly not-for-profit summer camp that provides opportunities for youth to try multiple sports in a fun and non-competitive environment. Sports Discovery Camp will start on July 2nd, 2019 and continue for eight (8) weeks in nine (9) different communities in Southwestern Ontario, including Windsor.