Monday, June 15, 2009

Running Camp

Question: How do you get a house full of 17 boys sound asleep (some snoring) by 9:00 PM?

Answer: Spartan running camp!

Last week we experimented with a running camp for our homeschool cross country team. Some friends from our church have a cabin on a lake, and they generously offered it to us for the week. It provided the perfect setting, because the cabin is nestled at the end of a road with nonstop MONSTER hills! (Evil chuckle from coach...)

(By the way, one more reason to love Mississippi is that the name of one of the roads nearby is Possum Trot Road!)

The boys arrived on Sunday night, rarin' to go and excited to be with their friends. We had 17 boys! In our welcome session, I explained that their day would be even MORE painful if I was awake all night. Later, I got a good chuckle when I saw that one of the only notes taken in a boy's notebook was, "Let Mrs. Heather SLEEP!" For all of their excitement, they did a great job going on to bed.boys during a session

The first full day dawned VERY early... about an hour earlier than planned, because an ambitious runner set his watch alarm for 5:45 and woke everyone up! We went ahead and had our bananas and headed for the hills (literally).
about to head for the hills

Monday and Tuesday were very similar. Each day we ran first thing in the morning, had two different meetings, strength and conditioning, free swim, and water workouts.
boys during strength training

The boys ran anywhere from one mile up to four. Remember, though, that four on those hills could probably be compared to a flat six or seven somewhere else! The purpose of our meetings was to communicate helpful and important information about cross country. We had sessions on TEAM, form, racing strategies, mind games, nutrition, strength training, and also covered many other topics. The strength and conditioning workouts were quite a challenge to execute, because there are 8 year old Spartans, and there are 17 year old Spartans! Fortunately, I think I made everyone sufficiently sore.... We had a good bit of free swim time in the afternoons, and we also did a water workout. Each day was pretty well packed full of exercise!

After dinner, we had an activity each night. One night the boys created commercials to present to the group, and they played board games the next.
Jamie and Kevin advertising hair growth shampoo

MAKJ... Shoe Rescue!

By the way, FORTUNATELY, we did NOT have typical camp food. In fact, I think I gained a few pounds over the week! Yonnea Chunn took charge of shopping for and putting together all of the dinner meals for the entire week. She, Julie McAfee, and Kim Killough then spent most of the week at camp cooking and cleaning up after each meal! This was SUCH a blessing... it REALLY made the week more like a vacation for me than anything, because I did not lift a finger in the kitchen... My favorite kind of vacation! :)

On Wednesday, the boys packed running, strength training, a session, swimming, and cleaning for the girls into the morning hours. At lunch time the girls began arriving, and we all enjoyed lunch together. The boys headed home, and then the girls (all 21 of them!) got to stay for their turn! (another evil chuckle from coach...)

The girls' schedule was the same as the boys'. We changed board game night to making a poster with the top 10 reasons to run cross country. The girls made some pretty creative posters, and here is my top 10 list, taken directly from the 4 lists created by the girls:

10. Because my mother said so!
9. For Health and healthy habits
8. For memories and fun activities
7. You get a cool watch
6. You learn to toss your cookies (and keep running)
5. So we won't be fat and flumpy; we'll be fit and fun!
4. You learn to BOW UP!
3. You learn to work as a team
2. For our social needs, of course!
Catherine presenting their list

The purpose of the camp was two-fold: I wanted the kids to begin to gel and become a real TEAM... I think there is some old saying about the team that gets tortured together... (just kidding!) I also wanted the kids to get motivated to begin running over the summer. If we come into August out of shape again, we will have no hope of being competitive... but huge chances of getting injuries. I thought this might be a little kick start towards both of those goals!Younger boys doing team exercise... changing places on a log

Here I am, trusting the girls to catch me!

Untangling the human knot

During our session on TEAM, we did a few "team building" activities like the human knot and the trust fall. We also inspired team work by having a friendly competition to see which group could gather the most seaweed! The girls won, hands down... and almost sunk the canoe in the process!
Emilee and Hannah paddling the seaweed canoe!

Boys working on their seaweed pile

It was funny to see the differences between the girls and boys activity choices. About half of the boys never took a shower. (Lake water... bath water... what's the difference?) During the girls' time, we had to take away about an hour from afternoon free time so that everyone could get showered!

During free time, the girls spent their time doing things like holding hands and running off the drop off.
Or, they would chant each others' names while the person did a trick off the dock.
Sarah doing her back dive

The boys, on the other hand, spent their free time grappling at the drop off. I think the goal of every boy was to "take down Cale!" Way to bow up, Cale!

While we were at the dock, the boys took turns going out in the canoe. Several boys took turns paddling out to the eagle's nest, and a few boys even swam that far! The girls got in the canoe some, but they stayed quite close to the dock... usually paddling in circles! LOL... you did a great job, too, girls!

Forrest, Cale, Kevin, and Nicholas in the canoe

I can't say for sure, but the camp seems to have worked, at least somewhat. By the end of each group's time, I saw the kids getting a little stronger in their running and also becoming friends with each other.


Anonymous said...

your evil chuckles made me chuckle-

Kim said...

It was a great success and great fun!!! Of course that is easy for me to say considering that I didn't do everything the kids did. I certainly hope it is the beginning of a tradition. Thanks for all you do Heather!!!


Meal Planning with Connie said...

It looks like you guys had a great time!! The kids are so lucky to have such a great coach!!
The talk of the hills makes my legs hurt, though! Larry has changed our walking (not running, mind you, walking!) route to include and uphill climb of what we affectionately call "Happy Holler" here in Pontotoc. The holler may be happy, but getting to the hilltop if murder!!
Love ya! Y'all come to see me!!

Olivia said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR DOING THE CAMP!!!!!!!!! I love your post, evil chuckling coach! Ha! See you at PRACTICE!!!

Roan said...

Heather, I cannot thank you enough for conducting the fabulous running camp for our children. My children all LOVED it, and cannot (even 2 + weeks later) stop talking aobut it. The highlight of their week is xc practice. I appreciate all of the planning and preparation you did.
Thank you so much!

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