Mr. Martins Ajiboye, a football coach, has been involved in football camping for most of his adult life. During holidays he gathers teenagers within the 10-17 years age range for a three-week football camp in Sagamu, Ogun State.
To be picked for the camp, the kids are required to fulfil normal procedural conditions such as filling registration forms and paying a specified amount. Because of the popularity of the camp and quality of talent produced over the years, scouts from home and abroad visit to get talented young players for local and foreign professional clubs. This is, of course, with parental consent.
On a particular day in 2016, Ajiboye was on his normal routine preparing to camp the kids but failed to put the proper things in shape to avoid hazards in camp: proper medical team, feeding and crowd control.
Consequently, some of the kids complained bitterly about the quality of service, especially as many of them came down with down with one ailment or the other after the camp experience.
Advent of Holiday Camping
Holiday camping is a supervised program for children or teenagers conducted during the holiday period. This in Nigeria usually happens during the long vacation after third-term examination. Children and adolescents who attend holiday camping are known as campers.
This is not to be confused with summer school, which is usually a required academic curriculum for a student to make up for work not accomplished during the academic year. Whereas holiday camps can include academic work, football event etc. but is not a requirement for graduation.
Holiday camps can be found which offers intensive instruction in almost any sport imaginable, or that offer quality instruction and competition in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. Holidays camps are sometimes split into groups of day camps and overnight camps. While many strong athletes attend these camps, a traditional sports camp program also serves the needs of less-proficient athletes by having all campers compete on teams picked by ability, so all kids get a chance to contribute to their team’s success in their daily competitions.
These camps tend to generally focus, through the medium of team sports, on the development of the whole child; not just how they are as an athlete, but also how they are as a person, a bunkmate, a teammate, and a friend. Many of these camps include a variety of sports programs as well for a more diverse experience.
Many sports camps focus almost exclusively on one particular sport. These camps generally focus on helping each camper acquire skills in a sport, especially football, that help them gain confidence and improve their chances of making the school team when they return to school. Indeed, some campers are helped to be nationally competitive by way of this kind of intensive holiday-camp training.
These camps generally run week-long sessions, and some campers may attend more than one session even though the curriculum repeats each week. Some single-sport camps offer longer sessions. Many of the instructors at these camps are coaches of local teams, and thus many athletes get valuable extra time with the coach they play for during the school year. Such camps are also a good way to learn about potential scholarships in their sport.
The best sports camps succeeds at challenging aspiring athletes both mentally and physically, while also promoting their social and leadership skills. This is possible because many of the counsellors attended as campers, and thus there is a vibrant “camp culture” that welcomes new campers into an extended camp family and establishes the high standards that incoming campers are encouraged to achieve.
Holiday sports camps do much more than just improve a camper’s football, tennis, or wrestling skills; they help each child become a more skillful athlete, a more gracious competitor, a more committed team player, more so instilling confident in that child.
As wonderful as holiday camping experience can be for kids, one major injury to a camper or a litany of small bruises on several campers can negatively erode this feeling.
Preparing for Holiday Sport Camping
In a chat with Safety Record Newspaper, Prince Sulaimon Gbadamosi, a grassroots football coach, who plans to organize a football holiday camp in Ogun state, harped on the need for proper preparations, especially in the area of ensuring the health and safety of campers by consciously reducing exposure to hazards.
“We have been preparing for the holiday camping for several years. You quite know holiday football camping is quite different from organizing a football event, as there might be some challenges,” he said.
He disclosed that when the holiday camp is eventually organized, players discovered to have health challenges will be evicted from camp or instructed not to come at all. This, he said, is to protect other campers.
Gbadamosi also said that culinary preparations would be kept topnotch to avoid food-related ailments as a result of feeding within the camp.
In a telephone chat with Safety Record Newspaper, seasoned sport journalist, Mr. Mike Umoh highlighted the inherent dangers of camping kids.
He noted that aside the risk of injury, female teenagers could get impregnated in a co-ed camp.
He said, “We talk most times about the injury aspect in camping, but there is the social aspect which will fail to look into. These children are prone to being impregnated and adulterated because they are not being monitored. Also, we also see some of the children falling victim where there are lots of cases of sexual molestation.”
“There are also many immoralities that go on in the camp, but those who are prepared to learn will learn.”
Umoh, who is popularly known as Fine-Boy Mike, advised parents that intend releasing their wards to such camp to have somebody monitoring them.
“There must be somebody who monitors their ward even if it is a religious camp. I was about falling victim to such camps where I wanted my daughter to attend. But fortunately when the planning was going on, I visited the place and I stopped her from attending.
“Unsurprisingly, a particular girl was discovered to have been impregnated after a month of the camping exercise. If I had not prevented my daughter from going to that camp she probably would have been a victim.
However, he said that camping exercise was not all gloom. “If the camp is effective and that particular child is talented, he or she will gain. All we need to do is to monitor that child to the end of the camping program,” he noted.
Auditing Holiday Sport Camp Venues
Looking at the physical characteristics of the camp location as well as the program, here are things to consider during camp exercise activities.
For complete camp safety, audit should include:
- Identification of the risks.
- Assessment of the risks and how they relate to the children.
- A plan for limiting risks that you can present to others.
- A plan for dealing with emergencies and contingencies should they arise.
Holiday camp safety is vital for all children – especially the children with special needs in your care. Taking time to explore the dangers and plan accordingly means a safe and enjoyable holiday sport camp experience for all.
Safety Tips for Preventing Holiday Camp
When sending kids away for holiday sport camping, every precaution to ensure their safety should be taken. Sports camps are notorious for injuries and even activity-based day camps come with a host of safety issues.
Here are tips to observe to prevent hazards in a sports camp
- Relating with your young athlete. Make sure your young athlete understands that he or she should talk with you and seek help if experiencing a pain or something that just doesn’t feel right.
- Being physically fit. A preseason or back-to-school physical is a great way to determine if your young athlete is fit to play.
- 3. Encourage cross-training and a variety of sports: But it’s important for young athletes to change the sports or activities they are doing so they are not continuously putting stress on the same muscles and joints.
- Putting pressure on the importance of warming up: Stretching is an important prevention technique that should become habit for all athletes before starting an activity or sport. Toe touches and stretches, where you hold the position for a certain amount of time, are considered static, while jumping jacks and stretches, where the body continues to move during stretching, are considered dynamic.
- Make sure they rest: Athletes of all ages need to rest between practices, games and events. A lack of sleep and muscle fatigue predispose an athlete to injury. Along these same lines, parents should also plan an offseason for their athlete, giving him or her adequate time to recuperate before the next season.
- Maintaining a healthy state, well-balanced diet: It’s important for athletes to eat a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, and to maintain a regular eating schedule. For instance, have breakfast, lunch and dinner around the same time each day. In sports like wrestling, where extra importance is put on an athlete’s weight, parents also need to make sure their athletes are following safe eating habits.
- Emphasize hydration: Heat-related illness is a real concern for athletes, especially during hot and humid days. Parents should make sure their children have adequate water before, during and after play, and watch for any signs of a heat-related illness, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion or fainting.
- 8. Getting the proper equipment: Protective equipment, like helmets, pads and shoes, are very important for injury prevention. Parents should talk with coaches before the season starts so that they have adequate time to properly outfit their child before practices begin.
- Emphasize properly on the mode of techniques and guidelines in sport camps: In every sport, there is a correct way and a wrong way of doing things. For example, football players should be taught the proper way to tackle an opponent to avoid a concussion, and tennis players should be taught the proper way to play the ball and follow the guidelines on how many services they should make.
- Recognizing injury and getting help early immediately: If parents notice that there is a change in their athlete’s technique, such as a limp when running, throwing differently or rubbing a leg during activity, they should pull the athlete out of play. If the problems persist, parents should seek an assessment for their child prior to returning to the activity.