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GAP: Climbing Walls and Building Rafts: A Great Camp
10 February 2010
During the last Thursday and Friday of January, I was fortunate enough to spend some time helping out with the GAP camp at the Woodman point recreation facility. The camps aims are reasonably simple but definitely worth while. With GAP kids coming from all over the state it was a great experience for all of them to share stories of what it is like to be an athlete from a regional area in W.A and gain an insight into a bunch of other sports and sporting personalities. I for one was blown away by the Woodman point grounds. There was the cube that housed 10m climbing walls both inside and out, beach access which provided the perfect setting for a team-building raft exercise, plenty of bunk space and some awesome catering facilities. I’m told they even provided pancakes for breakfast, which the GAP athletes polished off before most people heard breakfast had even started leaving GAP co-ordinator Tim feeling a little envious and hungry.
Thursday kicked off with 9 GAP young guns, some of the guys making the trip from as far away as Exmouth. The younger contingent of the camp were pretty reserved to start with but after the first couple of topics covering important elements of sport like stretching, flexibility, recovery and injury prevention they were a little more enthusiastic. After talking about time management, which a lot of the younger kids appreciated given most of them were juggling 2 or 3 sports, schoolwork and trying to find time to spend with friends, we broke for lunch. This gave us all a chance to learn a little more about one another. We mainly talked about sports and found out we had kids who were competing at a really high level already in things like basketball, athletics, and squash. We also chatted to Kayla, who is off to the World Championships for her sport of field archery next year. It was a real buzz and showed just how passionate these kids were already about sport.
After lunch Tim and I continued with the GAP presentation covering in my perspective some really relevant topics. We talked about what motivates them to pursue sport, goal setting and nutrition - all things that I am only just starting to get a handle on after 10 years of competing. I think this is a huge head start for these young athletes. Obviously they are all really talented sports people already but I think sowing the seeds for them to think about why they love sport and what they want to achieve, in addition to instilling good healthy lifestyle messages now, will only make them better athletes as a whole in the future. They all came up with some great answers as to why they play sport. They mentioned things like enjoyment, friendship, family and fitness and I added my two cents with winning, the opportunity to travel overseas, and getting to eat Italian Gelare each year. Because c’mon who doesn’t like ice cream.
Early afternoon and the older GAP kids arrived. After they gave a few interviews and we had a couple of snaps taken we all headed back into the "sauna” where I gave a quick talk about some of my experiences. Personally I think most of the athletes were more interested in getting on with the paper tower challenge. We started with a get to know each other exercise where everyone wrote down their name and something no one would know about them. Then Tim and I read them out in an attempt to shed some light on the athletes. We found out we had a swimmer in the room with a 100 backstroke time in the world’s top 10, and that a few of the girls enjoyed things other than sport, like photography. Then it was on to the paper tower challenge.
Each group was given a newspaper and a roll of sticky tape and had to construct a self-standing tower. The group who built the highest tower would be deemed the winners. Tim assured me we would see some impressive structures as some of the GAP kids had done this exercise the year before. However without naming names, one of the returning athletes seemed more interested in reading the paper than putting it to use as a building material. Some of the teams looked promising to begin with but struggled to support their towers while others just finished in the 10 minute window to create some towers about head high, a little under whelming considering some of the previous camp stories. At the end of the day all the groups had fun and I think the lessons of leadership and teamwork were realised by the end.
Friday saw camp numbers seriously decrease, with Jeremy passing out early with the exciting prospect of the rafting challenge and several athletes taking off for state team selections. The excitement continued when Tim almost trod on a tiger snake on his way down to the rafting challenge. Luckily not only did he manage to avoid a snake bite but also had the nerves to take a photo of the monster. After all the early morning excitement Friday finished up with some important tips on nutrition and athletes learning more about the pathways in their individual sports. For me the camp was a great opportunity to meet a stack of W.A’s regional athletes from a heap of different sports. I hope that some of the material I helped present inspires them in some way sporting or otherwise. Can’t wait for the next one.
Todd Skipworth
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