Why Archery Camp is More Than Just Camp
Updated: Jul 9, 2018
Suddenly summer is fun again! A big group of loud, laughing kids getting together to shoot their bows. What could be more fun?
Tomorrow I am about to host my third and probably final archery camp for summer. It's something that is very new to me. Asking parents to bring their children to a two hour camp for four days in a row and then wondering if the kids are going to have fun. Are the parents going to be happy with the lessons I deliver? This is a bit overwhelming but as soon as I step into the range with my bags of snacks, ice for the cooler to put drinks it and I drag out the targets I know it's game on. We are going to have a heck of a time and shoot a bunch of arrows and laugh and laugh and laugh. These kids will be shrieking and carrying on without a care in the world.
Archery Camp Lessons
My intention with each camp is not only to have a lot of fun activities for the kids to do. It's to teach them how archery integrates with life. What lessons do shooting a bow teach us every time we pick it up and nock our arrows and aim at the target?
The lessons are many. I center my camps around four basic things. Four life lessons built in the form of archery camp.
Lesson #1 - Goals. You must have an archery goal. Just like in life, you must have goals in order to keep moving forward. So set those goals. Big ones. Little ones. Make them your goals, not what your parents want, not your friends goals, these are YOUR goals. Finding motivation and using it to keep you working towards the goal. A very good lesson.
Lesson #2 - Practice, Practice, Practice. In order to achieve goals we must practice our shooting of the bow. Many times. And in life we must practice any life skill we want to become good at ie; riding a bike, swimming, cooking, educational goals. Whatever we want to do with ease we must first work hard at practicing that skill.
Lesson #3 - Competition. To compete and win we have to be very good at archery. Winning is the best feeling in the world because you have worked hard and put in the time and effort to reach that winning moment. And sometimes we fail to win. We learn from the failures. So competition in life is similar and I make comparisons and the kids are open and honest with me when we talk about getting prepared to compete.
Lesson #4 - Sportsmanship. How we treat others around us on the shoot line, at the target while scoring, helping each other and handling the pressure of competition. Let's talk about cheating. Too many people in our world are trying to find the easy way to winning by cheating. What happens when we cheat? What are the different forms of cheating? They kids have plenty to say about this subject I have found.
*note - I don't know the personal stories of these kids. What kind of home life they are currently having, have they suffered a recent loss, dealing with bullying at school, had to move to a new place or maybe had friends turning away from them. Kids live in a very fragile world. We all have these stressors in our life. I am there to tell them "look, life is hard but you know what? Everything is going to be okay. Wait and see." and then we have some fun.
I've had kids come on the first day who didn't want to be there, totally stressed out about it and by the end of that two hours or maybe on the next day see a totally genuine smile light their face and have them tell me, "I am having the best time ever!" That is why I will keep doing camps probably forever. The moments when you see a kid who you know is uncomfortable with themselves and suddenly they are strong and confident and are making new friends. Priceless to see.
Archery Camp Craziness
In being pushed to do an archery camp this summer (because that is when some people see something in you that you didn't know you had) I had to suddenly figure out what kinds of games would the kids like to play. You can only do so much instruction on the line with kids. So we quickly shifted into games. Skill building games like Tic Tac Toe and Red Yellow Sit. Shooting at balloons, candy and just about any objects the kids can think of is always fun.
The new ones are Go for the Gold and Baseball. I got the ideas from some other coaches and then they evolved and became our games. I let the kids guide me in how they want the games played. I listen carefully and then watch them to make sure everyone is getting the same benefits from the games. Figuring out how to get them to fairly pick teams has been a challenge but they even taught me how to let them do that and figure it out on their own.
I watch as they form new friendships by being paired up for teams and I watch these friendships grow and strengthen in just a few days. It's really wonderful to see. How does shooting at swinging bottles and watermelons and pinatas and pineapples make a group of kids form such a bond? I don't know but it's magic and I'm about to experience another four days of it again. I can't wait!
See you at the range!