OUTDOORS Education

Out and about

Sports camps, during vacation breaks, give children a much needed edge for growth.

Vacations provide a break from the routine — classes, tests, homework, and so on. While some children spend their vacation travelling with their parents, some engage in activities that not only nurtures their all-round development during some of the most crucial years of growth, but one that is both enjoyable and enriching.

A sports camp is one such option, which aims to give children a holistic fillip from every conceivable perspective. There is now a large volume of research emerging on the enormous benefits of sports camps. At the University of Missouri Health Care, the medical team advocates such camps for their excellent effects on the mind, body and spirit and their ability to teach children accountability, dedication, leadership and other such vital life-skills.

These camps are an excellent way to boost health and fitness goals in a comprehensive way, and this is the only time in the year when students can afford to give this aspect of their lives undivided attention. The health benefits of exercise and physical activity need no recounting. Developing bone and muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness, reducing the risk of illness and disease, learning the importance of eating right and a healthy weight and lifestyle, the list goes on. A recent study claims that even a short vacation from exercise and sports can cause unhealthy changes to the body and that hard-earned gains like increase in stamina can start to melt away in as little as two weeks.

Benefits

Better health apart, such camps have been found, indisputably, to foster a slew of benefits:

Happier, fitter children: At a purely scientific level, exercise releases endorphins — naturally-occurring chemicals that improve mood, reduce stress, relieve feelings of anxiety and depression, boost self-esteem and help us sleep better. Sports camps, with their adventure-themed games, exercise regimen and a variety of sporting activities, can promise parents that their children will get back home bounding with energy and confidence. It may be worth mentioning that, starting 2019, the CBSE Board has mandated that schools include a sports period every day from classes I to VIII.

Hones techniques and skills: Sports camps improve athletic skills. With many of these camps bringing in some of the finest coaches to train participants at a very high level, talented young athletes inspire each other to be the best they can be.

Lowers addiction to electronic devices: Since most camps do not allow smartphones or electronic devices, the addiction to gizmos is contained, boosting creativity in the long run.

Fosters independence: According to professor Margaret Talbot, the former President of the International Council for Sports Science and Physical Education, “sports and other challenging physical activities are distinctively powerful ways of helping young people learn to be themselves, to question limiting presumptions, and come to view themselves and their potential in a new way.” Being away from the more familiar environments at home or school, children are often forced to move out of their comfort zones and learn to take basic decisions on their own.

Helps develop a well-rounded personality: Sports camps inculcate the ability to play as a team, which has numerous add-on effects. Improved communication skills, better time management, important values such as respect, discipline, patience, greater self-belief, the ability to forge new friends and connections. Many sports camps attract participants from all over the world, who are passionate about their sport and excited to practice it in a new environment, making this a great networking and team-building opportunity.

Brings out latent talent: Camps often bring out a child’s intrinsic affinity for a sporting activity, helping frame important decisions such as the one to pursue sport as a career choice.

Improves academic performance: Children who play team sports appear to do better in the classroom as well. The Aspen Institute’s “Project Play” found that team-sport players scored 40% higher on average in school tests than those who played no sports at all. Sports calls for memorisation, repetition, learning, in addition to determination and goal-setting — skillsets that are directly relevant to class work.

“Sports”, said tennis legend Billie Jean King, “teaches you about character. It teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose — it teaches you about life”. More than anything else, like Michael Jordan famously said, “Just play, have fun, enjoy the game”. And, that by itself, is a wonderful lesson to learn.

The writer is the Head of Sports, Shiv Nadar School, and also the Captain of the Indian Women’s Basketball team.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 2:37:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/out-and-about/article28805592.ece

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