Monday, October 11, 2010

More than a game: Volunteering at the Scarborough Sports Camp

This blog post was imported from my WordPress: September 6, 2010.

This past summer, I had the great opportunity of volunteering as a basketball coach at the Scarborough Sports Camp - a project initiated by Ena Ujic (a current Schulich undergraduate). This project was in partnership with Sogo Active and Motivate Canada.

At first, it was a great way for me to get into a volunteer position, and to be involved in what I love: basketball. I was excited to draw out a camp that would help kids improve their basketball skills, so they can take their game to the next level for their basketball teams at school. However, as the camp swung into session, and my first time ever instructing a large number of kids, I quickly learned that it wasn't about basketball at all.

I realized that kids did not like to do drills. As a matter of fact, often times they would get bored of basketball and we'd have to switch to dodgeball (at a basketball camp!). I learned that these kids just wanted to have fun. I went with my coaching layout for the first couple of weeks, but quickly scrapped it, and instead of running defensive drills or complicated passing drills, I decided to teach them what was essential in the game of basketball (and even life): teamwork, leadership, and confidence. I decided to make a game out of everything we did - for example, simple layup drills: we'd have to make five layups in a row before we move on. This forced them to work together and support each other, all while having fun. Sometimes the fifth kid would be so intimidated to go they would simply run to the back of the line! However, all they needed was a simple reminder that it's not important whether they make it or not, what's important is that they shoot and go for it.

As the weeks went on, I was amazed at some of the kids' confidence levels and how it had risen since the beginning of the summer. Since it was a co-ed camp, the other problem we had was the boys not passing the ball to the girls. To solve this, we implemented a passing rule where the girl on each team would have to receive a pass before the team can score. By the end of the camp they didn't need this rule anymore.

I was very happy with the teamwork and confidence that these kids had, but the moment that stood out for me most this summer with the Scarborough Sports Camp was near the end of the camp, when we were about to start a game of dodgeball, and one of the girls said, "but I want to play basketball. Can we play a full-court game again?".

From coaching at this sports camp this summer, I think that volunteering for a good cause is such a great way for you to not only get involved, but to also make a difference. For me, it was a great feeling knowing that I was a part of a team that helped some kids stay active and healthy throughout the summer months, stay out of trouble, and learning to work with one another.

On a related note, I really enjoyed this NBA Cares PSA, but related to it more after the camp was over: NBA Cares: It's More Than Just A Game

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