Packer soccer camps offer mix of instruction and fun
Updated 12:52 pm, Thursday, July 28, 2011
Look, Mom, no hands! Just head, shoulders, chest, knees and toes. That's the mantra for most soccer camps, since the only part of the body that doesn't come in contact with the soccer ball are the hands.
However, at Packer Soccer Camp, it's more than just playing the sport. It's about having fun, exercising, learning to share, listening and knowing what it's like to be a team player. The two-week program for boys and girls ages 5 to 11 years is a half-day program (9 a.m. to noon). The Grasshopper program is for ages 3 and 4-year-olds and designed to "make learning the wonderful sport of soccer fun and to build confidence through success," according to camp director Dick Packer.
The Packer Soccer Camps were organized in 1978 in response to the growing popularity of the world's favorite sport. Despite the number of schools and camps already in existence, Packer (Rowayton), a former member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team and the U.S. Armed Forces European Soccer team, and Peter Gogolak (Darien), former football placekicker for the NY Giants and the Buffalo Bills, perceived the need for an environment in which young soccer enthusiasts could truly enjoy the game of soccer.
"After all, soccer should be as much fun to learn as it is to play," Packer said.
As a result, the Packer Camps provide continuous individual attention, lots of group exercise and frequent inter-squad scrimmages. Along with a staff of outstanding coaches, Packer supervises every camp and helps campers of every age and ability to learn to play and love the game of soccer. It's one of the reasons the program has been singled out and described in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, on TV and in newspapers. It is a program unlike any other to which campers return week after week, year after year.
"We stress skill building -- not winning -- thus, there is no opportunity to fail," Packer said.
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This summer marks the 33rd year in operation. The first week of camp was held at Rowayton Elementary School in Rowayton. The next session is Aug. 8-12 and will be held at Middlesex Middle School in Darien. Boys and Girls ages 5 to 11 are offered a half-day (9 a.m. to noon) experience, while the Grasshoppers enjoy one-hour of fun (10 to 11 a.m.)
"We call what we do at our camps `Kicks for the Fun of It,'" Packer said. "The kids simply call it fantastic, because they learn in an atmosphere of fun and friends. Our staff members are carefully selected, and many are former campers now involved in collegiate soccer.
"We think parents agree that healthy competition is good for growing boys and girls," Packer said. "We make sure -- win or lose -- our campers realize their full potential of ability, exercise and fun."
As in the past, a portion of this summer's proceeds will be donated to Haiti Lumiere de Demain (HLD), a non-profit organization which provides textbooks and flashlights for the children of Haiti. Luis Elneus, the founder and director of the organization began working at the Packer Soccer Camp 15 years ago.
"I noticed his love for his country and a strong desire to make a better life for people on the island," Packer said. "Luis realized that the best way to make change was through education, and so he founded HLD. One hundred percent of donations go to the kids on the island of Ile de la Tortue, located off the coast of northern Haiti, for books and flashlights."
"Luis passion is soccer and his commitment to children everywhere is to live and grow in an environment that cares for them," Packer said. "I know that the money is being spent properly. I know exactly where the funds are going and how they are being used."
For more information, visit www.Haitilumiere.org.
For information on Packer Soccer Camps, or to register for the August session, call coach Packer at 203-866-4830 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.