Stomping Ground Spotlight: Sports at Camp


It really baked my muffin the other day to hear our good friend Kurtz say “You guys play sports at Stomping Ground?” with a tone that was 50/50 astonishment and disbelief. Of course we play sports at Stomping Ground. At any time probably 15-25% of the population is on the basketball court, on the soccer field, or in the gaga pit. It was due to this ignorance that I take it upon myself to raise awareness to one of my favorite parts of camp: Sporting Ground (working title).

First: a story. I was around thirteen and about embark on the grand and exciting adventure that was high school when I stopped going to my childhood summer camp. I had been going to camp since I was seven, and my very wise thirteen year old self just knew that I’d outgrown it. It was time to get serious. I mean, this was ninth grade we’re talking about. The high school I had chosen had a pretty intense reputation for sports and I wanted to focus my efforts that summer on playing soccer. I knew I was going to be an all star and big things were coming my way.. There was a weird dichotomy for me about playing sports and going to camp, and I had chosen the path of the sports champion.


Two years and probably six or seven minutes of field time later I stopped going to tryouts the summer before my junior year. I knew then, while I still loved playing soccer and so many other sports, I didn’t have the competitive spirit that it took to play even at that level. Winning or losing was never really that important to me, I really just liked to play. The next summer I applied to work at camp.

I look back on those few summers as a missed opportunity to have a lot more fun than I did.

I love sports at Stomping Ground for so many reasons, the biggest being that it is all about maximizing the fun. We do this sometimes by amending rules and adding stuff. Kickball is just better when you add the rule that for this round you can only throw with your non dominant hand, and you have to run backwards, and for some reason there is a counselor with a hose just past second base.


Because of Stomping Ground’s commitment to self direction and offering options to meet each camper’s interests there is always a sporting element to our night games. For the campers and staff who love to be active and excel when you give them physical challenges, these are some of the biggest highlights of their week.

The nature of sports, very noticeably in the gaga pit, can be a direct line to conflict. We see this as a good thing and as an opportunity to grow. It’s good to bump into people around you and work through it. I’d bet we’d have a lot fewer circles at camp without sports, and that’s not something we want.

So yes, Kurtz! We do play sports at Stomping Ground! Like in everything else, when it comes to our sports programs we are growing. Last summer changed the game when we got an actual blacktop basketball court after playing on gravel the year before. This year we are excited about new games and new sports features. I haven’t yet convinced Jack to let me build a half-pipe or that we need a trampoline (apparently these pose “significant insurance risks”, whatever that means) but I definitely haven’t given up.

Sports Fest 2020?



George Clay