When the Dutchtown High School girls soccer team advertised it was hosting a summer camp, they meant it literally.
For the second consecutive year, the players of the Lady Griffins took the reins when they put on a soccer camp for local children from start to finish. Seniors led the charge as players planned, organized, advertised and ran the weeklong soccer camp at the school’s Geismar campus.
“It was a lot of work for the seniors, but I’m glad we got to do it because it brought a lot of us closer together as a team and we all got to know each other working with all the little kids,” Dutchtown senior Sarah Patterson said. “You have to (work together) otherwise things will be chaotic. It was really fun.”
Patterson, along with three of her fellow upperclassmen, headed the project that she described as a great team building experience on top of the inherent community service value that comes by working with children.
The five-day camp brought together 132 area youth soccer players who participated in the drills the team laid out — most of which came directly from their usual training.
“We’re going back to the fundamentals, basically,” Patterson said. “Shooting and making sure it’s low and on the ground — everything they would need to be successful for upcoming season for them and also when they get older and play for their high schools.”
Dutchtown coach Anant Vyas said the goal of the camp was to provide a place for local children to come and have fun, but also wanted to give his team the opportunity to create a service project they could be proud of.
Several parent volunteers helped with registration and administrative work during the week, but the near 30 high school counselors remained relatively autonomous throughout.
“It gives (the team) an idea of how an overall project and how a fundraiser is run,” Vyas said. “We want the ownership of the project to be with the team.”
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Lady Griffins. The camp hit a snag when the final two days of the camp fell prey to the elements of a Louisiana summer as rain forced campers to take shelter under the school courtyard.
Parent volunteer Kathy Gates said the move wasn’t optimal and prevented the camp from getting to conduct its pre-planned activities, but the Griffins tried to make do with what they had, playing some small indoor games focusing on touch control while some of the older campers were able to play small-sided games in the limited green space.
“The girls adjusted,” Gates said. “They did a lot of ball work under (the covering), they have been playing slower games and it’s all still part of soccer.”
This will be Patterson and her fellow seniors’ final attempt at running the camp, as they are set to graduate at the conclusion of next school year, but she said she’s going to miss getting to set everything up and run the program.
“I hope it’s plenty of sunshine next year so the kids can run around outside,” Patterson said. “I’m not going to be here (next year) and I’m kind of upset about it.”