Steve’s Club athletes from across the country recently gathered at a National Guard training base in Fort Indiantown, PA, for the third annual Summer Leadership Camp. The week-long event challenged 25 young men and women with exercises in team building, leadership and personal development.
Organized by Steve’s Club National Program, the camp gives the leaders of Local Clubs the opportunity to meet other athletes from the program. This year there were athletes from Texas, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Guest coaches came to speak with the kids about a variety of topics including self acceptance, leadership, mental toughness, goal setting, team building, public speaking, injury prevention, nutrition and cooking basics.
A long-time supporter of Steve’s Club, Austin Malleolo attended camp for the third year with fellow CrossFit Games athletes Spencer Hendel and James Hobart.
Other CrossFit seminar staff members volunteered including Jennifer Hunter-Marshall and Aimee Lyons, who is also a leader of Steve’s Club King of Prussia.
Daily WODS, yoga, Olympic lifting, running and gymnastics clinics were included in the programming to challenge the athletes physically and test their mental fortitude.
The athletes completed a challenging group obstacle course while keeping a raw egg intact as they moved through the course in silence. Group members used non-verbal communication and teamwork to help each other complete the obstacles.
Also on the agenda was hiking with group sandbag carries. Many had never been hiking before.
Numerous attendees cited the Leadership Reaction Course as the highlight of their week. This unique course is designed to challenge each athlete while promoting teamwork and efficient problem solving. A leader of each group was selected at random for each task and given instructions, and he or she would lead the group through the challenge. The task pictured below was to get all team members and the box across to the other side using only the planks of wood and rope provided.
Throughout the week athletes and camp guests were asked to share a quote for our ‘Wall of Inspiration’.
From the Inspiration Wall:
“If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.” – unknown
“Who are you not to be successful, your playing small serves no one!” - Nelson Mandela (chosen by Ray from Camden)
“Everything gets better in time…just be patient. I promise you that, because I went through it.” (chosen by Eddie from NYC)
“Today I am going to do what you won’t, so tomorrow I can do what you can’t.” (chosen by Coach Spencer Hendel)
“What the mind can conceive the body can achieve.” (chosen by Coach Aimee Lyons)
“Do or do not there is no try.” - Yoda (chosen by Coach Jennifer Hunter-Marshall)
“Dare to be great!” - Coach Steve Liberati
The evenings of camp gave kids and coaches an opportunity to share stories with the group, offering them an outlet to get to know each other on a personal level. They connected while empathizing over similar struggles. Through this vulnerability, inspiration blossomed.
“These kids are great examples of perseverance,” said Coach Kelly from Kelly’s Champions. “Listening to their testimonials has been inspiring, and makes me want to be a better Coach, mentor and father to my own children.”
“The kids grow and transform from the beginning of camp to the end,” said Coach LeAnn from Team Fearless. “They’ve completed obstacles, faced challenges and overcome them – together. The resilience and courage they’ve shown to face the physical and emotional challenges at camp has inspired me. The strength it took for them to open up and tell their stories is amazing and humbling.”
The last day and evening of camp was all about FUN. There was a picnic BBQ at Memorial Lake complete with volleyball, kayaking and games, as well as a campfire with s’mores.
Before the kids boarded the vans for home, one last inspirational quote was read.
“In the present day when cynicism and aloof detachment are considered the cool trend, this quote by Teddy Roosevelt reminds us that glory and honor come to those who spend themselves in a worthy and just cause,” said former camp coach Abe, in a message sent from overseas where he is serving as a Marine.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds…who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
- Theodore Roosevelt
A few weeks ago, 30 Steve's Club kids, from across the nation, came together for a Leadership Camp in beautiful Indian Gap, Pennsylvania for a week of fitness, learning and laughter. The kids went through a rigorous application process to be chosen for this life-changing opportunity. They answered questions about their future goals, accomplishments they are most proud of, and their definition of leadership.
"Being a leader is not about being in charge or giving commands," said Caleb from Colorado. "It's about doing the right thing and encouraging others around you to do that too."
The Steve's Club National Program staff led by Steve Liberati, Lee Knight and Tiffany Dalagelis created a week-long itinerary packed with workouts, inspirational guest coaches, and team-building activities focused on problem-solving, communication, and leadership. Guest coaches from around the country flew in to participate and facilitate. Coaches from Local Clubs included Coach Blanco from SC New York City, Coach Rebecca from SC Nashville, and Coach Eric from Unbroken Kids.
Josh Murphy from CrossFit HQ, Tanner Cook, who taught Olympic Weightlifting, Abe Pelton and Drew Kenney of the US Marine Corps, Austin Malleolo and Denise Thomas from Reebok One and CrossFit Seminar staff, Greg Amundson of CrossFit Amundson and Erin Kelly of CrossFit 1Force rounded out the Guest Coach line up.
"There aren't words to explain the impact of Leadership Camp," said Denise. "I wondered what words of wisdom or tools could I offer the kids, but in the end, I received the life lessons. Steve's Club Leadership Camp is the product of tireless effort, constant love and care, and always finding a way to say 'yes' when it would be easy to say 'no.' It's an honor to be invited, and I will always support Steve's Club."
This is the second year for the Leadership Camp. In addition to providing fitness and enrichment activities, the kids had fun too! They went swimming, kayaking, canoeing, played sports and enjoyed campfire activities like singing and making s'mores. The amazing support from our donors and the CrossFit community, as well as the sale of Steve's PaleoGoods, allows us to continue to host this Leadership Camp at no cost to the Steve's Club athletes that are selected. The goal is to expand our reach, and invite more kids to attend next year.
"Everyone has a calling in life," said Ray from Steve's Club Camden. "Steve's Club Leadership Camp showed me anything is possible. Leading others is my true calling."
"This camp experience is a first for many of our kids," said Steve. "It's a place for them to learn and grow, but also a place to relax. Some of the realities of their lives are impossible to imagine. Many aren't safe walking around their own neighborhoods. Steve's Club is a safe environment and an extended family for these kids. Your purchase truly changes lives."
"I'm no longer afraid of being caught up in the streets," Ray added. "I am stronger physically and mentally. Thanks to Steve's Club, I am ready to change the world!"
*Update: check out the video from the 2014 Summer Leadership Camp:
James Hobart from CrossFit New England and Patrick Cummings from Again Faster came down this past friday to visit Steve's Club. James spent a good 20 minutes getting to know the kids at first....talking to them on a very personal level...asking them a bunch of questions about their interests and how CrossFit has helped them with life and school. It was obvious the kids were very receptive and curious to hear what James had to say. He offered a lot of good advice, including some recovery tips (sleep A LOT!) and emphasis the importance of staying in school and find out what you love to do. He asked if any of them had interest in becoming a fitness trainer and few hands went up with excitement.
Then we broke the class down into 2 groups. James coached one group and I coached the other before starting the clock for a team throwdown. The workout was 5 DB Snatches each arm and 25 air squats for 5 rounds. Team with the lowest total time wins.
3,2,1 GO! It was a great workout and the kids had a blast.
More important than being a great CrossFit athlete, James is a great guy. He was very excited to come down and spend time with the kids. On the way to picking up and dropping off the kids, we talked a bit about giving back and sharing our talents with others. It was a very evident from our brief conversation that James deeply cared about others and wasn't just another one of those great athletes that only cared about themselves (and they're are plenty of those type out there...just take a look at professional sports!). Instead of going on and on about his accomplishments, he only talked about ways the kids could all better themselves.
His down to earth and humble personality was super refreshing...
And the leads me to this:
No one really cares how fast you can do Fran or how much you can deadlift.
What matters is how you treat other people and the mark you leave in this world.
Steve's Club is dedicated to strengthening a nation, one kid at a time. To learn more about how you can help, click here.
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Did you know that the profits from PaleoKits and PaleoKrunch go to support the Steve's Club National Program? The first PaleoKit was made to help the young boys and girls of Steve's Club in Camden, NJ, eat better during the school day...(read more).