Our week at Soccer Camp: Go Beyond the Goal, was amazing!
Our team of over 115 campers and volunteers learned new soccer skills, met new friends, heard about Jesus, played water games, and grew hearts of compassion for children who are different than us.
Our soccer coaches and volunteers, who included adults, college, and high school aged leaders, were cream of the crop. They enthusiastically led our campers in learning soccer skills with an emphasis on agility and coordination. They taught dribbling and shooting skills through games like Sharks and Minnows, Avalanche, Alien Tag, Clean Your Room, and Steal the Bacon so that even young campers and novice sports players enjoyed the process and experienced an atmosphere of enjoyment and whimsy while learning new skills and team work.
The campers learned a lot off the field as well. Each day they heard a different Bible Story and learned that:
- God gave us all different gifts so we could fill a unique role on His team (1 Corinthians 12: 4-26).
- We need to guard our hearts and protect them from sin so that we will not be taken out of the game (Judges 16:4-21).
- It we want to be an effective member of God’s team, we must learn to get up when we fall and press on (Philippians 3:4-17).
- God doesn’t want fans; he wants people who are willing to get in the game (1 Samuel 17).
We saw God show up in so many ways this week. Typical peers made connections with special needs friends and even exchanged phone numbers so they could set up a play date outside of soccer camp. We had campers with special needs who heard about Jesus for the very first time at camp. We watched typical kids and campers with special needs share in worship time together. Special needs campers were challenged physically and learned new coordination and practiced motor planning skills this week! God provided phenomenal one on one buddies who were invested in our campers with special needs, paid close attention to their needs, and made connections with their buddies. Our special needs campers were well supported with:
- A volunteer buddy supporting each child with special needs
- A licensed therapist supporting each group of children
- A structured break area to support sensory emotional regulation with a sensory tent and calm area as well as visually supported sports themed activities
- Campers with special needs participating alongside of their typical peers.
- Structured activities to teach skills such as dressing, writing, drawing, visual perception, motor planning.
- Visual supports, accommodations, and modifications provided to promote participation (i.e. quiet cheer instead of loud clapping, color coded goals, visual schedules, and first/then visuals)
- Structured opportunities to learn the skills related to the sport in a one-on-one setting guided by a licensed therapist.
Highlights of the week included:
- A little girl with Autism proclaiming, “I have a friend!” and playing with her new friend for the rest of the week.
- Two young campers with varying skill levels beaming with pride as they worked together successfully to work the snack stand, including taking orders and counting change.
- A girl with special needs as a leader during worship encouraging her peers from the front as she sang and performed the motions to a song.
- A child who sat on the sidelines and stated on the first day that she would “not play a bit of soccer this week” responding to compassionate encouragement from her buddy and visual behavioral supports to go on to play soccer every day and kick a number of goals to the cheers of her teammates.
Thank you to everyone who supported camp! We had a great week and are grateful for the partnership we had with Canyon Springs Church and North County Soccer Park. We look forward to partnering with more organizations in the coming year to positively impact our special needs community.