More Than Fun and Games
Young athletes gain skills—and more—at summer camps
by MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
July 31, 2011
The Dickinson College Girls' Basketball Camp helps school-aged girls improve their skills, work as a team, set individual goals and just have fun with fellow players their own age. Photo by Heather Shelley.
The campus is a hotspot this summer—and not just because of soaring temperatures. While some of the nation's most talented pre-college students spark debates in the classrooms and gifted young dancers converge in the residence halls and the HUB, there is a storehouse of energy brewing in the Kline Center and on Biddle Field, where fresh crops of young athletes gather to perfect their game.
They come to take advantage of Dickinson's weekly summer athletics camps, led by coaches Dave Webster (boys’ lacrosse), Caitlyn Williams (field hockey), Brian Redding (boys’ soccer), Kelly Tyrell (girls’ soccer), Dina Henry (girls’ basketball) and Alan Seretti (boys’ basketball).
“These camps provide opportunities for local youths, strengthen the college’s relationship with the community and attract good student-athletes from across the country who may be considering attending Dickinson,” said Les Poolman, director of athletics. And, he added, the college has stepped up its summer programming in the past few years, offering increased options for players in several age groups.
Instilling a love of the game
Through the Lil’ Devil Dinner Crew basketball camp for 3-7-year-olds and the Gym Rats camp for children in grades K-3, for example, coaches Serretti and Henry get the children excited about basketball while teaching them the basics of the sport. The older children in Seretti’s two youth camps (grades 3-9 ) and in Henry’s girls’ basketball camp (grades 4-10) practice their shots and strategies and hold team competitions.
The campers learn to work as part of a team while simultaneously setting and meeting personal goals. They also may gain a greater appreciation for athletics—an appreciation that can lead to a healthier, more active lifestyle for years to come. Most importantly, they have fun. As a result, many return the next year, said Webster, who leads a popular Red Devil day camp for local students in grades 3-8.
Making informed decisions
The college also hosts overnight camps for high-school athletes. Each year, the boys' lacrosse recruitment camp draws approximately 80 gifted high-schoolers from across the nation, and this summer, Henry has introduced a similar prospect camp for women's basketball players.
Webster's teenaged athletes immerse themselves in three 2-1/2-hour practice sessions each day; the high-schoolers in Henry’s women's-basketball prospect camp tackle an equally demanding routine of drills, practice sessions and workouts. “The schedule is concentrated, because these students are only here for a short time; they want to fit in as much of the sport as they can,” said Webster.
But their time off is equally valuable. As they walk the grounds, eat in the dining hall, visit the Kline Center and sleep in the dorms, the campers get a sneak-peek of what it's like to live on a college campus. The seniors may also take guided tours and meet with admissions representatives.
The result? Webster says that each year, several of his high-school campers ultimately decide to enroll at Dickinson. That’s good news for the college, since these talented student-athletes are excellent candidates for recruitment. It’s also good news for the high-schoolers, who gain insight and experience that can help them select the best college for them.
“It’s almost like they’re getting a head start [in the decision-making process],” Poolman said. “The more they know about the campus and our programs, the better.”