Yesterday, Emilie and I were invited to check out the Play like a Pro lacrosse camp hosted by Aimé Caines, Ryan Benesch and Corbyn Tao. The camp had 80 boys between 8 and 14 sign up for its inaugural year.
The camp began with jersey distribution at check in to those who did not already have theirs. After check-in, there was a group huddle, followed by a variety of warm ups. After warm ups, they first split into groups by age to run skill drills, then split up by position to continue working. After a break for lunch, they moved fields to run more drills, finishing the last hour with a game that looked like everyone enjoyed. Then the camp wrapped up with awards and final announcements.
The kids appeared to really enjoy themselves as did the coaches. Everyone had grins on their faces, and it was really enjoyable to watch. Having only seen Benesch and Tao play before, they made the transition to coaching smoothly. Caines shows his experience as a coach at all levels in this camp. Emilie and I had fun just observing.
I spoke with Caines, Benesch and Tao following the camp about the experience. I first asked them how the experience was for them. All agreed that it was a great experience. For Benesch, one of the great things was the number of kids that signed up. He said they were expecting around 40, and got 80, so that was a huge bonus and an incredible feeling. For Caines, having their name on a camp, especially one close to home and seeing kids from all over was amazing, and part of what they were here to do was to grow the game so that objective was met. For Tao, it was having the opportunity to have the camp with their name on it, and seeing the kids come out every day smiling and working hard throughout the day. He hopes that they take a lot from this camp and develop their skills and come back again.
The best part for Benesch was seeing the kids have fun. For Tao, it was seeing the kids have fun, be happy and work hard. For Caines, it was having the professional athletes out there, providing someone to look up to and positive role models for the kids. They do it for the kids, and to see them have fun is their ultimate goal. To learn, but have fun means their doing something right. The group agreed that a few of the campers were more challenging than others, but you learned quickly who you could push and you who you couldn’t.
Benesch gave me a quick summary of taking the camp from creation to now. “Started with an idea…came together as a group…Brooke did a lot of the ground work…did our part to promote it and get it going and get the sponsorships, and eventually, it all just came together, and we’re here now.
There are plans to continue this next year. They want to brand and grow the name, and eventually lead to merchandise. The summer camp is planned to be their big camp, but eventually, they would like to have clinics and a winter camp as well and just see where they go with it. And judging by how much fun everyone was having, it looks like this will be a successful endeavor.