In sports, are you a young team member and leader was the general theme of the camp we organised for my son´s football team for the October break some years ago.
We ended up going two years in a row to Ödevata Countryside Hotel, a beautiful place in the forest of Småland. Not far away from the railway hub in Emmaboda. and an oasis far away from the hurly-burly of external noise.
I was a bit of a risk as we had never tried out this kind of training and outdoor camp before.
Different from other camps
The general idea in Sweden, at least it used to be, is for the clubs to send the kids to tournaments or training camps. Much focus is put on the training activities as well as on the competition part of the sport.
However, this time we wanted to create a space where football would be a part of a greater pictures. A sport is so much more than chase a ball it is building up comradeship, understanding the values behind a strong partnerships and fairness and the feeling that we are in this together.
The idea behind the camp at Ödevata was to train, bond, share, work together. We wanted to give them kids the possibility to live the values that makes it possible to thrive in and as a team.
They walked from the train station in Emmaboda. We picked them up a couple of kilometers before arriving to the resort. They sang as they approached us.
In addition we
- We presented them with football goals still in the package from the sport store where Malin had bought them. The kids had to put them up themselves.
- The football pitch was the field where the goats roamed and grazed so before starting to play they need to clean the area from goat manure.
- Before enjoying a wood burning sauna the kids worked together chopping wood and fetching water in the cold October Lake. Magnus showed them how to make a fire and how to navigate the sauna ramp out in the lake. Furthermore, jumping into the freezing lake was great for creating their presence of mind.
- Fishing and rowing a boat turned out to be hard for the city kids.
- Canoeing as a group is good fun. They ended up having a synchronized row by tying up the canoes and going around the lakes and canals as a single long line of canoes.
A strategy for the future – Sports team members and leaders
The smaller and inclusive sport clubs in Sweden are run by parents, usually a smaller group of mums and dads working in their free time to assure a that the kids have access to fun and age appropriate after-school activities. It is a tall order, and the energy is slowly slipping away as less and less parents as well as kids are willing to participate in the running of the clubs and even the teams. For the clubs to survive the kids need take an active part in the running of the teams.
Setting the environment for the discovery of important values
There is no such thing as a free ticket and working together.
Together with Malin and Magnus from Ödevata we provided the setting, but the kids and the coaches need to do the work.
For one of the lunches we tried outdoor cooking. The kids helped to drag the outdoor cooking kitchen to a strategic position outside the kitchen building. With the help of Malin, the kids started a fire with the wood they had chopped the previous day. She lent us pots, buckets, knives and peelers. We all had to help out.In addition, the cleaning up after the lunch turned into a no waste lesson. Malin told us which of the peels we should recycle to feed the pigs. The rest was carried away and into the farm´s compost.
Parents had contributed with food that we took along but the kids had to prepare the dinners themselves. Most of it consisted in heating up the ready-made home-cooked food. But still it provided yet another opportunity for working together to get something done.
The ability to focus and be grateful for the smaller things in life.
One of the main gains was that the team managed to spend quality time in nature and far away from distractions.
Ödevata is surrounded by a beautiful setting, the lakes, the trees and the chestnut trees. It is a natural “playground” with the forests, the sauna ramps , the fields and great hiking trails. It is also a place for learning and meetings with the teepee tent, the many horticulture projects, and the amazing Aquaponics greenhouse provides a perfect setting and places to hang out. Perfect for a place where a team in a short time could get a boost of comradeship, team energy and assure a long and enduring love for the outdoors, for their team and for exercise.
The “no-waste and sustainability philosophy” of Malin and Magnus is all around, and you have biodiversity at your fingertips.
Me and my team – am I a team player
I think that we all left the camp a little more grateful. It was a short 3-day break, but it generated a lot of bonding and strengthened relationships. It made it possible to look into the future.On the agenda we also had planned some workshop “ Me and my team – am I a team player” focusing on self-management leadership and communication within the team
We wanted to show them that to take responsibility for the wellbeing require. It gave them an insight that perhaps they were not 100 % prepared to take the team to the next level but if they put their mind to it, they could meet the challenges and take the next steps necessary to strengthen the team spirit and feel the necessity to participate and take leadership roles in the running of the team and the club.
Workshop on Self management leadership- what we hoped for.
The workshop gave insights and reflections about self-leadership and why the way we behave and choose to act is important, What we aimed to achieve as
- a team with team members and leaders
- players who look forward to training
- Players who lift and push each other, with and against
- coaches who receive help from the team
- fewer conflicts and fights in the team
- a team that work together and enjoy the trip
- players who want to stay in the team and the club for years to come
Fitness training on the farm
Fitness outdoor is fun and healthy. You do not need of equipment to have fun and get the body going
My sister, who knows a lot outdoor fitness, brought along some boxing gloves and fitness rubber bands