The Real Score
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”
Which camp (no pun intended) are you in?
The discussion of kids, sports, winning and losing often ignites passions on both sides of the field. Are we wrong to think that sports should prepare kids for life? Does saying “we are all winners” really help a child when they eventually lose? Is competition at camp a good thing?
Over the years, there have been multiple shifts in philosophy regarding youth sports and competition in the camp arena. We at Apachi J Camps have gone from keeping score and naming winners to “new games” that had no score, no beginning, no ending and no losers.
Now, we find ourselves somewhere in the middle. We believe winning is important. But, winning has been redefined. It is not just about the score on the scoreboard, but instead about who played hard, who played fair and who tried to win.
Vern Seefeldt, Professor Emeretus of the Institute for Study of Youth Sports, redefines winning as “striving to win.” It’s about effort, working to your potential and giving it your all. This shift in focus puts winning within reach of all kids.
So, how do we encourage “winners” at Apachi?
We understand that kids come to camp with a wide range of skills and talents. It’s our job to assess abilities, find strong points, help improve weaker points and encourage all campers to feel part of the team–even if that means working the sidelines as a team manager, an umpire or a line judge. The important thing is to get kids involved, sitting out is not an option.
We focus on teaching skills in a nurturing environment. We encourage kids to try things without the fear of failure. One way we do this is through the use of fun “lead up” games that isolate one or more of the skills, rules, and strategies used to play the actual sport it mimics. For example, we play Running Bases or 500 to teach basic baseball skills and Steal the Bagel to teach soccer skills. We praise effort and recognize achievement.
We teach and model good sportsmanship. It has been said that “Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” At camp, sportsmanship is emphasized and rewarded. We teach kids to, follow the rules, treat coaches and opponents with respect and to cheer good play. We teach them if you make a mistake, don’t pout, blame or make excuses. Learn from it and move on. Play classy–shake hands at the end of the game, compliment your teammates and don’t gloat if the score ends up in your favor. Life is full of success and failure, winners and losers. It’s what you take away from the loss that matters. How can you improve next time?
As a parent, you can support Apachi’s “winning” philosophy by asking your child not, “Did you win?” or “How many points did you score?” Rather, “Did you give your best effort?” or “Did you improve your game today from previous games?” Children can often give a resounding “Yes” to these questions, even when the scoreboard shows something different.
There’s a commitment and passion for athletics at all Apachi J Camps. For campers looking for a greater focus on sports and skill building, we offer three sports camps: Apachi Sports in Chicago, Sports Camp at Apachi Skokie and Sports Camp at Apachi Flossmoor. Additionally, ‘Z’ Frank Apachi and Apachi Rogers Park have specially designated sports groups or units. Learn more here.