Tuesday, August 27, 2013

PC/BCNY Training at Camp Cromwell in New Jersey!

Earlier this month Project Coach once again had the opportunity to work with select members from four BCNY clubhouses. This particular week-long training marked the third summer in which the two organizations have met together at Camp Cromwell in Martinsville, New Jersey. It is a partnership that makes great sense. It is a great pairing of two youth development programs that aim to change entire communities by positively affecting and guiding children and teens who are the future of those very communities.
     This great combination of program leaders, graduate students, veteran coaches from both PC and BCNY, and eager first time coaches proved to be a powerful, motivated mix of driven individuals. As soon as we arrived at Camp Cromwell we were greeted with open arms by the camp director and his staff. We knew the week ahead would be full of positive experiences, productive lessons, and fun filled activities.

     The morning of the first day, however, which involved a seven hour training session beginning at the basketball courts, had called for rain. Not a good way to start things off. The project coach staff who was up, ready, and focused at 8am and set for the BCNY coaches' arrival, felt a little bummed. Was this really the way this week long training camp was going to begin? The moments that ensued, though, were completely unexpected. We had no idea that this wary weather was exactly what this BCNY group needed to jump start their Project Coach experience.

From the moment we hit the court the coaches brought incredible energy as we taught them the PC model for introducing and running a game. These motivated teens, most of them first time coaches, were running, sliding,  competing, and encouraging one another. What ended up being the highlight for many of the coaches from both programs was an incredible first impression for all involved. This moment set the tone for the entire weekend and the energy seemed to spill over into the rest of the week.

We crammed all different types of lessons, ice breakers, activators and activities into two long days of training for these future coaches who were set to take on groups of 6, 7, 8, and 9 year old boys from each of the BCNY clubhouses during the upcoming week. While the weekend training felt very full, all lessons and experiences were chosen to sufficiently prepare the teens for the intense and important role of coach. With so much information being thrown at these young adults, there were many moments of fatigue. However, the teens were resilient and took valuable components from each lesson and situation.
With the support of the BCNY staff and the willingness of the coaches to take on all of our challenges, this newly assembled team came out of the weekend ready to run soccer and basketball sessions for their young, neighborhood counterparts.

As the Monday morning sun rose on camp Cromwell, the BCNY/PC team was prepped and ready to manage, guide and entertain a massive group of children from various boys clubs of New York City.Talk about energy! These kids were quite a handful for our young coaches. Luckily PC staff and veteran coaches were there to provide support and feedback. As the children piled off the bus, the coaches only moments behind them, we knew it was go time and our skills would be put to the test.

The first day involved the Project Coach staff being extremely hands on, with most of the BCNY coaches having the chance to see how a PC "practice" runs. As the week unfolded, however, these coaches began stepping up and taking the lessons they had learned and applying them directly to their specific group. A part of the PC model that was extremely beneficial to this group was the immediate reflection sessions we held following the morning and afternoon sport periods. Each day the coaches improved drastically because of the way they were able to give and receive critical feedback among their peers. Shout outs were given to those who stood out in that particular session and video feedback seemed to be extremely powerful as many of the coaches were able to see themselves in action, highlighting areas for improvement as well as all of their strengths.
     Throughout the week the coaches experienced a roller coaster of moments and emotions. At times the young children made it tough for these coaches. Introducing a game, giving instructions, or getting water all proved to be difficult tasks during these moments. However, seeing the way our coaches responded to these frustrating instances and made adjustments on the spot, was a great thing to see. With a little guidance and quick reminders about topics covered during training camp, these coaches responded incredibly well with energy and enthusiasm.
   We had the group answer a few questions as part of their reflection on the week that had passed. The questions were; what were your top five highlights of the week? what were four things you learned this week? What are three things you will take with you to your boys club? And, How would you improve the training camp?
   The answers didn't surprise us, but they certainly excited us and demonstrated that the coaches learned many of the concepts and ideals we hoped they would. 

These were some of our favorite answers:

I learned how to be a well structured coach, watching kids and helping them out, how to make friends, and take responsibility.

My highlights of the week were; Hanging out with cool coaches that trained me and coaching with other coaches from different club houses. I learned don't be shy and always be energized! 

A highlight was meeting everyone in PC, they were polite and friendly. I learned sportsmanship, and used video feedback that helped learning and improving take place more rapidly.

One highlight for the week was creating a positive relationship with the kids.I learned how to talk to kids, remain calm, problem solve, and the best ways to talk to other coaches.

"I didn't know I could coach"
I helped little kids, learned how to keep them interested, how to get their attention, how to give feedback, and how to get them motivated....I learned how to COACH. I also learned how to really connect with the kids.

I learned new skills and techniques to handle kids when they're a upset or mad.And I learned that you can always learn new things!

What these coaches seemed to take away from the week long training camp is everything that we try to teach and what we strive for at Project Coach. Having a growth mindset, problem solving, communication, brining energy, planning ahead, giving and receiving feedback. These are just a few of the concepts and attributes coaches take with them after experiencing our program. But arguably the most important concept, a factor of life that we aim to focus our attention on this year with the youth of Springfield, is building and sustaining positive relationships. Everywhere we have gone this summer Project Coach has built bridges and extended its reach by developing hundreds of meaningful, individual relationships with staff members and students alike. 

The best part about the week we worked with all the BCNY clubhouses was simply the solid relationships that were formed in such a short period of time. As a whole these two programs were able to connect on a number of different levels. From directors and staff to coaches and players, the positive and genuine relationships that formed over the course of the week proved to be extremely valued and acknowledged by all. The bridge between BCNY and PC has been built and we know this relationship will continue to grow and develop even further into the future.

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