At Casey, we host dozens of sports camps throughout the year, and what we have learned from talking to the various coaches about their programs, is that those who have the most successful seasons are not those who focus on the fundamentals and core skills. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Coach Mills, who brings his cross-country team to Casey every year for their pre-season camp, sets the example of inspiring the young runners to put the experience of participating in a sport with others ahead of the actual outcome of the race.
The Shorewood Cross Country pre-season camp places most of its emphasis on camp activities fostering bonding and team building. Their three-day schedule is well defined and packed with activities. Every block of time, from when they load their buses and depart their school Friday morning, until they leave Casey the next Sunday afternoon, has been outlined. One quick and simple way to gauge what the coaches find most useful is to count how many blocks are dedicated to honing fundamentals, core skills, and endurance training and how many center around teambuilding and bonding. Out of the 16 scheduled blocks (not counting meal breaks), 11 are teambuilding and bonding exercises. Music video filming, campfire meetings (think S’mores), talent show, field games, and filming at the lighthouse are just some activities that one wouldn’t equate with cross-country training.
Sure, there is the occasional ‘Oregon drill,’ bluff run, and ‘easy aerobic run,’ but most of the days are filled with things one would typically associate with a fun summer camp. The kicker, according to Coach Mills, is that the pre-season camp is his best recruiting tool. Many of the first-time runners join the team because of how excited everyone is about going to pre-season camp at Casey.