Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What do you do at SPEECH CAMP anyway?

In 2009, I decided to host a Speech Camp at the school I teach at for my small but growing team. Not really knowing how to fill the time (9am until 3pm) or how many kids would actually show up, I was pleasantly surprised with about 20 kids, and we had a blast. Now three years later, close to double the amount of kids, I am gearing up guest speakers, day of improv, and a student written showcase that will take place on Friday night. Our school is hot (no air conditioning except in choice locations), but the kids don't complain. In fact, they say the sweat makes them bond more.

Now that some of my most talented and oldest members of my team have gone through the program, from freshman year to their impending senior year, I can almost sit back and watch. I don't have to worry about everyone feeling included and having enough activities to fill every single second of each day. My coaching staff (which consisted of only my husband at the time) doesn't have to write the "student written skits". This year, I am excited to watch my upperclassmen take the reigns; I am excited to see how they've learned how to take care of others, sacrifice the spotlight to let some else shine, to be a mentor, and most importantly to be confident, young adults.

Coaching can be long hours (as many as 30 hours a week to coach a large team with a small coaching staff), it comes with frustrations, and it requires a lot of personal sacrifice, but moments that I will experience this week remind me why I coach and why I became a teacher. It reminds me how precious these moments are and how much adolescent experiences can shape a person's life.

When I started coaching four years ago, there were two kids on the team. Having watched this team and individual students grow has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. What's awesome is that one of my assistants is my husband, and I've been able to share this with him. My family (both sets of parents, siblings, relatives, and friends) have also been a huge part of this process both through personal support and actually volunteering their time to work with our students. Coaching and teaching is not a job; it is a way of life for me and for my family. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with these kids again and for the opportunity to watch authentic growth occur in students I've worked with for four years.

So when asked what exactly goes on at a speech camp, which inevitably happens every year, my response: major life changes and personal growth...  no big deal.

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