Our Week at the Girls Active Camp
Aubrey Reardon, Katelyn Metzger, Jake Lenthall, Gabe Kondrotas
Four students from the Athletic Training program at Endicott College were chosen to be mentors at the Girls Active Camp held at Loughborough University, located in Loughborough, England from March 27th through March 29th. We were part of a team who facilitated programming for girls ages 13-18 from across the U.K. The purpose of the camp is to help develop leadership skills and encourage participation in sport and PE back in their schools. At the beginning, we were all very nervous for what was to come of the camp, but by the end, we were all inspired.
The Girls Active Camp is hosted by the Youth Sport Trust in partnership with Women in Sport and Loughborough University. Approximately 150 girls from across the U.K. were brought together in order to establish a Girls Leadership and Marketing team , known as a “GLAM” team, within their school. The girls came in groups of five from their schools with the goal of engaging a minimum of 50 girls in regular physical activity in their school or community. During the camp the girls went through workshops which provided advice on how to act as role models, how to inspire and motivate more females to participate and how to lead and actively volunteer in sport. They were given information to work with their teachers to review the opportunities and what is already provided for young girls in physical activity, physical education and sport in their school and community.
My Experience Volunteering at the Youth Sport Trust
Inclusive Futures Camp
After going on the Sport Science trip to England, my life has been changed. Though London was stunning and the sights and intricate buildings were beautiful, I knew I could always go back to experience these things again. My experience in Loughborough at the Inclusive Futures camp was a once in a lifetime chance. The purpose of this camp was to make young people aware of the need for inclusive sport, and to make leaders out of all the campers to go back to their cities and make a difference. I was a team leader to a group of 17 young people with different abilities, from able bodied to people with physical, mental, or learning disabilities. Though all of these young people knew what their goal was, they made so much more out of this camp, as well as I. We learned what it meant to be yourself and to not care what others think of you. To give it your all, no matter what challenge you face. That winning isn’t always getting the gold medal or scoring the most amount of points in the game, but it is reaching a goal you set, no matter how small. Getting out of your wheelchair and playing a new sport is a win. Getting to meet new friends that accept you for yourself is a win. Having self-confidence in something that you typically wouldn’t is a win. Throughout this trip I have really confirmed why I want to become a Physical Education teacher. Sport changes lives. You do not need to be an elite athlete to find joy and passion in physical activity. I want to touch everyone’s life with this joy, no matter what size, shape, or ability. Always focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to learn so much about myself, all while I was supposed to be teaching others. You will always get back what you put in, and you never know what you might find when you step out of your comfort zone.
My Experience Volunteering at the Youth Sport Trust
Inclusive Futures Camp
There are no words that truly describe this life changing opportunity where I had the pleasure to work with and learn from such inspiring, energetic, and truly passionate people. The Inclusive Futures Camp allowed me to take part in the wonderful experience of providing a positive and thriving environment in which all participants of the camp could engage in physical activity. The “focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do” attitude inspired me to really help those individuals who were able and those individuals with disabled bodies to participate in activities ranging from volleyball, basketball, obstacle courses, creative sessions, and other activities. With the help of Paralympic athletes and inspiring people, campers had the motivation and confidence to really push past their comfort zone, meet new people, and inspire others through sport. This camp really expressed how important it is to be a role model for all students and trained us with valuable skills that promote inclusion, and thus, will be noteworthy information to instill when we go on to become future educators and sports coaches. I owe a large thank you to my partner, group members, mentors, and overall, everyone who participated at this camp for making this a memorable experience. I have gained further insight in how to engage individuals of all abilities in physical activity and show them that anything is possible.
An experience that I would like to share involves a timid female who was too shy to interact with other campers. At a lunch break, she asked me how I am able to have such confidence and be so outgoing, and start up conversations with people so easily. After a long discussion of explaining how she has this same confidence inside of her and that she has the ability to get over her fear/anxiety of talking to others and meeting new people, I noticed unbelievable progress, within just one day. She went from participating in activities in silence with her head down, to starting conversations with others and becoming an active participant. She actually broke through her perceived barriers. One can never eliminate an individual’s past history or how they perceive social support, but this example demonstrates that it is always worth the try to reach out to someone who is in need. This experience was just one example of how ecstatic I felt about seeing a change in someone’s attitude toward different aspects within a physical activity setting.
This camp was not just about working with amazing people toward inclusion, increased participation, and breaking down perceptions, it was an outstanding camp to motivate and help others reach their personal goals, whether it relates to sport or not. Basically, this camp challenges the attitudes towards people with disabilities and engages people in the community. Recruiting volunteers with the leadership qualities to participate and take the challenge to grow from such an experience benefits our world by teaching future educators to share the knowledge gained from their experiences. My team’s motivational speaker was Adam Mould who is a wheelchair rugby coach. I had the opportunity to hear about his journey and how he acquired the motivation to overcome many obstacles and find his passion through sport. As a member of TEAM MOULD, my group members and I grew together by learning more about inclusion, adaptation, cooperation, and other aspects of how to utilize the skills learned in a real life experience. It was impossible not to feel the positive effects from such a worthwhile experience. Personally, I believe that it was an honor and a privilege to participate in such an inspiring camp that is dedicated to teaching and bringing awareness to the world. Our team slogan was “Moulding the future” as we felt that it is up to every individual to make a difference and instill that motivation that anyone can do anything they want to do.
“TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAMWORK”
Some captured moments: