Charlie800

Who are the people behind Future Stars? Meet Charlie VanDercook

We are excited to bring you inspiring interviews with some of our key family members! To kick off our interview series, we’re talking to the patriarch of it all, Co-founder Charlie VanDercook. On any given day during the summers, Charlie can be seen playing tennis with a 7 year old, jumping into a 4 v 4 soccer game, challenging a 14 year old to a push up competition, or simply introducing himself to kids at all of our locations. What is not seen by everyone, is that Charlie has already paddle-boarded for an hour before camp and will go for a mountain bike ride after all the kids go home. His love for sports and physical activities is contagious but even more remarkable is his positive outlook and encouragement to the children.

Youth athletics brings in adults from a variety of backgrounds. From former athletes to educators, you’ll find a winning array of stories when you speak to coaches, staff members, directors and anyone else who has anything to do with helping young people develop their athletic talents. With that in mind, we wanted to know a little bit about Charlie’s background and how he ended up with Future Stars.

On his own background in sports, Charlie said, “I grew up playing all kinds of sports as a kid.” After trying a lot of different sports, he eventually focused on tennis. He played one year of college tennis and spent one season on the 1976 WATCH circuit.

When asked what drew him back to youth sports as an adult, Charlie told us, “I grew up playing tennis and became a tennis instructor. Teaching and coaching kids was a big part of my day and I gravitated to the students.” He went on to add, “I guess I’ve always been a kid myself and love playing games, and I brought that love of the game (tennis) to my junior students in the way of games.”

Charlie’s career didn’t stop at being an instructor – obviously. “I was Director of Tennis at a club in Lake Placid, New York.” While there, he directed the junior tennis camp, a junior program, and organized tennis tournaments. Following this, he was hired as Director of Tennis at the Banksville Racquet Club in Banksville, New York. “The biggest part of our business and our emphasis was on the junior program, where there were 350 participants. I was good at relating to kids, and they liked being with me. I made tennis fun and had aptitude as a teacher.” Between his own athletic background, instructing and directing, Charlie was well-versed in youth sports when he co-founded Future Stars!

Working in youth sports takes a certain love of the game. It also requires adults to consider what they think children can learn from athletics. We asked Charlie, what he thinks children can get out of youth sports?  He said, “Children learn life lessons and most everything about life through playing sports. The fun of striving and competing, and loving the process.” Our Co-founder of Future Stars knows kids can also take away, “The satisfaction of trying your best, whether you win or lose. Learning it takes hard work and tons of practice to achieve goals. They learn to respect the game, the coach, their teammates and opponents.”

The children aren’t the only ones who are reaping the benefits out of sports, and out of Future Stars. Charlie notes, “The biggest reward that I’ve received in my life is that after running Future Stars for 36 years is that, I’ve come into the second generation of campers. Parents that attended are now sending their kids to the camp, because they love Future Stars and they fondly remember their experiences.” And incredibly, Charlie not only remembers these campers’ names after all of these years, but he can tell stories about them from 30 years ago, both on and off the tennis court.

What he’s found particular gratifying is, “The kids I coached come to see me after 20 years, and show me pictures of their kids – relating their stories and giving me credit for shaping their success.” From his early days as a tennis player to inspiring generations of children, Charlie VanDercook has dedicated his personal and professional life to the game!

FS.ShortInterview.Chris.April18.2018

Spotlight on: Chris Griffin

“The biggest reward that I’ve received in my life is that after running Future Stars for 36 years is that, I’ve come into the second generation of campers. Parents that attended are now sending their kids to the camp, because they love Future Stars and they fondly remember their experiences.”—Charlie VanDercook

We are proud to be a family tradition.  Enjoy getting to know our Future Stars Camps family. If there is someone at Future Stars Camps that you want to know more about, let us know at:  purchase@fscamps.com

*****************************************************************************************************************************

Meet Chris Griffin, Site Director of Future Stars Camps at Farmingdale State College.  Chris is in his 7th year and previously directed the lacrosse programs at Farmingdale and Old Westbury.  Chris also worked at the camps when he was in college.  In addition, he helped oversee the indoor turf facility at Future Stars Southampton, when it opened 5 years ago.   Chris carries the Future Stars’ tradition of being a camper at SUNY Purchase in the 90’s and now a full-time staff member.

What was your most memorable 2017 winter moment?
Chris:  Drinking mint flavored hot chocolate that David would make in the office.

What are you most looking forward to at camp this summer?
Chris:  Nice weather! Making the rounds and seeing all the different programs in action is always nice. When you see the campers having a great time, it puts a smile on your face. Additionally, I like playing in the staff soccer game and hearing all the campers cheering for their coaches.

What are your hobbies?
Chris:  I like to surf when the waves are good, but typically the better waves happen in the fall and winter.  I’ve found myself surfing less and less through the winter months as I’ve aged, but I hope to still get out there in the future.

What is your favorite memory from camp?
ChrisI’ll answer this two ways, since I used to attend Future Stars as a child.  Back when I attended, there were really only two options, tennis and soccer.  I would attend both programs throughout the summer, and the awards ceremonies at the end of the week in tennis always stood out for me.  We would be having ice pops on the hill and Jordan, site director for SUNY Purchase, and his staff would make it so fun and be joking around.  For soccer, one day that stands out is when we were having a juggling contest, and the director was juggling for about 30 minutes straight, and only stopped because we had to go to lunch.  He even kept juggling as we made our way to lunch, but at that time, the path was like hiking through the woods, so I think he lost it on one of the hills.  I was amazed as a kids and it probably felt more like an hour back then.

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Chris:  Being able to get outside and have some fun with the campers is most enjoyable to me. I love sports, so working in that field is pretty cool. I’ve been so interested in the STEAM programs lately, and wish I was able to spend more time learning and visiting them, but I probably wouldn’t get anything done if I stuck around too long.

ShortInterview.ChrisGriffin.April18.2018.2

What song do you play most often?
Chris:  One song in particular doesn’t stand out.  I love music and listen to everything from country to old school emo/punk rock.  I don’t really update my playlists, so I have  “workout”/”pump-up” playlists, from college, that I still listen to when I do get to the gym.  I just let my music app pick playlists for me.

Which exercise do you enjoy the most?
Chris:  Riding a bike.

What’s your favorite comfort food?
Chris:  Garlic mashed potatoes or mac ‘n’ cheese.

If you could be the better at something, what would you choose?
Chris:  Playing an instrument or drawing.  The arts are something I’ve never really been very successful at.  Don’t get me wrong, I can sing, but the last instrument I played was a recorder!  Would be great if I knew how to play the piano.  You could literally play anywhere that had one, and it’s pretty impressive.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Chris:   Just having fun all the time, especially in the summer, when school was out.  Not a worry in the world and you didn’t really have any responsibilities, besides taking out the trash and recycling.

FS.ShortInterview.ChrisGriffin.April18.2018.1

Chris:   Who is your favorite fictional character?
Ron Burgundy from Anchorman:  The Legend of Ron Burgundy

What kind of movies do you enjoy
Chris:   Comedy/Action

What’s your favorite outdoor activity/indoor activity?
Chris:   Outdoor: Hanging at the beach/surfing.  Indoor: Making Smoothies.

What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
Chris:  My first car.  The summer of my freshman year in college.

What is your favorite quote?

It’s better to have memories rather than dreams.- George Geiser

Image Credit:  Chris Griffin

 

Throwback.AdamT.March10.2018

Spotlight On: Adam Taraska

“The biggest reward that I’ve received in my life is that after running Future Stars for 36 years is that, I’ve come into the second generation of campers. Parents that attended are now sending their kids to the camp, because they love Future Stars and they fondly remember their experiences.”—Charlie VanDercook

We are proud to be a family tradition.  Enjoy getting to know our Future Stars Camps family. If there is someone at Future Stars Camps that you want to know more about, let us know at:  purchase@fscamps.com

Meet Adam Taraska, in his 5th summer as Future Stars Baseball Camp Director at our Purchase College location.  When not at Future Stars Camps, Adam is in his 5th season as head baseball coach of the Purchase College Panthers.

What was your most memorable 2017 winter moment?

Adam:  Crusing in the Bahamas and wave running in the Bahamas.

What are you most looking forward to at camp this summer?

Adam:  Being outside and on the field all day every day with the counselors and campers. I’m over the snow!

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Adam:  Sharing this great game with today’s youth, who will be tomorrow’s high school players and camp counselors.

FS.Short.Interview.Adam.1

What song do you play most often?

Adam:  Hero of the Day by Metallica. When I was a high school baseball player, I used to listen to it before every game. Now, my new tradition is the night before opening day, I take 4 minutes and make sure I play it at home.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

 Adam:  How long the days are.  As an adult, the hours, days, weeks, and years fly by. When you’re a kid, time moves so amazingly slowly.

FS.Short.Interview.Adam.3

What kind of movies do you enjoy?

Adam:   I enjoy historical timepieces with great plots.  My favorite movies are L.A. Confidential, Gangs of New York, and Almost Famous.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity/indoor activity?

 Adam:  I enjoy playing racquetball in the winter and grilling in the backyard in the summer.

FS.Short.Interview.Adam.2

What is your favorite quote?

A quote by the longtime NHL coach, John Tortorella. He used this quote with his 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning, meaning that if you play the game to not make a mistake, you will lose. If you play aggressively and don’t worry about making a mistake, instead drive yourself to make a great play, you stand a much better chance to win.

“Safe is death” — John Tortorella

Image Credit:  Adam Taraska

FS.ShortInterview.Anna.March21.2018.475

Spotlight on: Anna Edwards

“The biggest reward that I’ve received in my life is that after running Future Stars for 36 years is that, I’ve come into the second generation of campers. Parents that attended are now sending their kids to the camp, because they love Future Stars and they fondly remember their experiences.”—Charlie VanDercook

We are proud to be a family tradition.  Enjoy getting to know our Future Stars Camps family. If there is someone at Future Stars Camps that you want to know more about, let us know at:  purchase@fscamps.com

Meet Anna Edwards, Soccer director, Purchase College

What was your most memorable 2017 winter moment?

Anna:  It’s in the process of happening. I was chosen to go to England with New York Soccer Club, where I coach, to help guide our teams through London and Manchester.  We will be participating in friendlies, coaching clinics, and watching PL matches.

What are you most looking forward to at camp this summer?

Anna:  The return of familiar faces of both coaches and campers. Soccer camp is like a family and it’s exciting to see the players and coaches come back with energy for the game.

What are your hobbies?

Anna:  I love running with one of my dogs. He’s a tiny poochon. It’s more about being outside. I also like doing crafts and exploring my surroundings. I like to try new things.

FS.ShortInterview.Anna.5.March21.2018

What is your favorite memory from camp?

Anna:  We’ve been lucky to have some players from New York City Football Club (NYCFC) come to camp to talk to the campers. Last summer, Jack Harrison and Indi Cowie came and played soccer tennis with our campers. The campers’ faces when the two of them came out to surprise them was priceless.

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Anna:   The aim is to have kids learn and enjoy soccer as well as meet new friends and make camp memories. When I experience kids doing those things it makes me happy to be part of it.

What song do you play most often?

Anna:   Anything by Luis Fonsi. I’ve been a fan of his for almost a decade. If any of his songs come on, be prepared for me to sing in Spanish.

Which exercise do you enjoy the most?

Anna:   Soccer of course!  I can never turn down playing.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Anna:  My mom’s tortilla española. Authentic Spanish food made with love.

FS.ShortInterview.Anna.2.March21.2018.500

If you could be the better at something, what would you choose?

AnnaPlaying the guitar. I’m trying to learn. It’s not going well.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

Anna:  Honestly, being on a team and just the pure joy of playing sports. No expectations. Just doing your best with your teammates by your side.

FS.ShortInterview.Anna.1.March21.2018

What kind of movies do you enjoy.

AnnaDepends on my mood. Anything except movies that are gruesome. You won’t see me in line for movies like “Saw”.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity/indoor activity?

Anna:  All roads lead to soccer. I am a lifer and that’s why it’s my job  I want to pass on the love for it.  My dad was my first ever coach. I used to tag along with my older brother and my dad coached the team.  He’s the reason I gained a lifelong love of the sport.

FS.ShortInterview.Anna.3March21.2018

What was the first thing you bought with your own money?

Anna:  Blue velvet pants  don’t judge me  it was the 90s

What is your favorite quote?

Anna:  To me it’s about doing your best for yourself and the rest falls into place.

Champions are made when no one is looking — Ansom Dorrance

FS.ShortInterview.Final.Feb.28.2018

Spotlight On: Kirsten Shaughnessy

“The biggest reward that I’ve received in my life is that after running Future Stars for 36 years is that, I’ve come into the second generation of campers. Parents that attended are now sending their kids to the camp, because they love Future Stars and they fondly remember their experiences.”—Charlie VanDercook

We are proud to be a family tradition and we are kicking off short interviews with our staff and campers.  We will “Spotlight” a Future Stars Camps’ family member regularly, and we hope you enjoy getting to know us.  If there is someone at Future Stars Camps that you want to know more about, reach out to us at:   purchase@fscamps.com

Meet Kirsten Shaughnessy, Office Manager, Purchase College.

What was your most memorable 2017 winter moment?

Kirsten:  In the winter I spend my time away from the office on the ice coaching my U12 girls’ hockey team for the Greenwich Panthers. We are a U10/U12 combined team, so this season has been a learning experience for everyone involved! With a wide range of ages and skill levels this season will be one of my most memorable. From day one each of the players has improved greatly which is amazing to watch as much as it is to be in that position. This season has given me one of the proudest hockey moments of my 7 years as a coach and 19 years as a player.

FS.ShortInt.Kirsten.Feb.15.2018.2.Edited.Final.429

What are you most looking forward to at camp this summer?

Kirsten:  Being able to wear my Birkenstocks all summer long.

What are your hobbies?

Kirsten:  I have lots of hobbies and they include: hanging out with my dog and cat, Olive and Ginny, cutting hair, I cut my own hair and sometimes cut my friend Matthew’s (no complaints yet!), playing PlayStation, road trips, going home to see family (I have a niece joining the family soon!), playing hockey, no more college hockey but I do get out on the ice with a couple men’s leagues in the area, playing tennis, mostly against my cousin Dahminik who came and lived with me last summer but now he’s back in Minnesota, so for now I just teach kids in Armonk, Rye Brook and Port Chester, listening to My Favorite Murder Podcast, calling my grandma, building things, most recently, I built Ginny her very own apartment in the house so now she has a place to call her own (it even has a name plate ‘Ginny’s Place’).

What is your favorite memory from camp?

Kirsten: My favorite memory from camp is always the carnival, being able to get out of the office and enjoy my day outside is always the best!

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Kirsten:  The best part about my job is being able to see what I can do. I am very versatile in the office and have to handle multiple things at once. I didn’t see myself in a job like this growing up so being able to see my growth in the position in just a few short years makes me enjoy myself and who I am more.

What song do you play most often?

Kirsten:  Florence & the Machine! I couldn’t narrow it down to a single song because everything they sing is magical and really touches every part of you. I even have a tattoo of the lyrics from ‘Ship to Wreck’ so I’m really into them.

Which exercise do you enjoy the most?

Kirsten:  I’m not big on exercise, but when I do I would have to say it has to be in a game. I will go out and play any sport, I was a 2-sport athlete in college and working out was a main component in my every day until a shoulder injury. When I do hit the gym, I love the TRX, it’s tough but you feel the work you put into it the next day! The best work out for me though is just getting out on that ice or court and putting all you have into the game.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Kirsten:  Chocolate cake. I have a huge sweet tooth, so I love all things candy but my number one would have to be chocolate cake, homemade or the fancy lava kind at restaurants doesn’t matter to me I’ll eat it. I would have to say a close second would be my mom’s tator tot hot dish, probably the only thing she knew how to cook growing up, but it was always the best!

What kind of movies do you enjoy?

Kirsten:  When I was in high school, I used to work at a small movie theater that has now been torn down, but movies have always been a staple through all stages of my life. I will watch any movie, it’s too hard to narrow down a single movie or genre because I just love all that goes into it. In college, I took a lot of film classes because I like the technicality behind the scenes. It is very underappreciated because all we as viewers critic is the final product, not the tireless hours that went into making that hour and a half long film.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity/indoor activity?

Kirsten:  My favorite thing to do outdoors is to go to the dog park or on walks with my dog, Olive. She is my world and we do everything together, so really anything that involves getting out of the house and spending time together is the best. We often go on road trips back home to Minnesota, she loves staying in hotels and being able to run free in the fields. I am so happy watching her when she’s free to be herself outside of city life.

 

Processed with MOLDIV

What is your favorite quote?

Kirsten:  “It’s the magic of risking everything for a dream nobody sees but you.” – -Million Dollar Baby

SS.Jordan.770

Who are the people behind Future Stars? Meet Jordan Snider: From Camper to Camp Site Director

Variety has been the rule, not the exception, throughout Jordan Snider’s Future Stars career – from camper to Site Director.  On a daily basis, Jordan manages a staff of international coaches teaching everything from the latest soccer drills from Chile to STEAM education, providing a joyous and enriching camp experience to children ranging from 6 to 16 years old.

In the Beginning, Jordan Was a Camper

Jordan started his relationship with Future Stars as a young camper and something about the experience and uniqueness of the Future Stars spirit stuck with him.  Over the years, as his role changed — from camper to bus counselor to nurse to tennis coach to soccer coach and now Camp Site Director at SUNY, Purchase – Jordan has learned to thrive with change.

Future Stars Camps has been a part of Jordan’s life since he was a child.  He has had a long standing relationship with co-founders of Future Stars Camps, Charlie VanDercook and Bill Griffin. Working together on their shared passion makes for a lot of hard but fun work.  “I have known Charlie since I was 9 years old. I have seen his children grow up and now he is watching my children grow up. I started working at Future Stars during the summers while I was in college. After I graduated, I started working year round with Future Stars and developed a new relationship with Charlie and Bill. I see them just about every day, and every day we brain storm and discuss ways to make the camp experience even better for the kids.”

A Special Love for Tennis

With all the change and diversity of life experiences, tennis has been a constant part of Jordan’s life and his life at Future Stars.    “I grew up loving all sports but was especially focused on tennis. I was lucky enough to play tennis at Rollins College where our team won the NCAA National Championship in 1991. Tennis has been an important part of my life and I fully reaped all the benefits sports have to offer. For many years after college I taught tennis during the winter months while directing the tennis camp in the summer.”

Today, Future Stars offers a variety of sports camps like basketball, volleyball, swim, and other interesting camps like circus arts, magic and S.T.E.A.M., but when Jordan was a child at Future Stars, there was only a tennis camp.  “I remember many of the coaches, the events both on the tennis courts and off the courts,” says Jordan as he fondly reminisces.  “As a kid, the camp helped me gain self confidence and to take chances. Of course, it also helped my tennis. As a camper it seemed that everyone that worked at the camp was loving what they were doing. They all participated in every activity and seemed to have as much fun as any of the kids. They also had a passion for tennis that was contagious.”

SS.Jordan2.500

Finding and Encouraging Passion in Others

“In hiring new coaches, a critical attribute is enthusiasm. They need to love their sport or specialty and enjoy helping others. It is summer camp and has to be fun while at the same time the specific sport or specialty is the common bond at each program. For example, the baseball campers and coaches are all wearing baseball jerseys and having friendly arguments about their favorite player or Yankees vs Mets debates while the basketball campers and coaches are all about LeBron and Steph Curry or the Knicks and the Spurs.”

This approach has had an impact on campers.  In our March 6th blog, Julia Duffy a former camper/counselor, says “Jordan Snider, Site Director at SUNY, Purchase, has had a lasting impression on me because of his dedication to the camp”.  Julia’s respect for Jordan is crystallized as he shares what he values in his chosen profession: “Most important to me,” says Jordan, “is the opportunity to interact directly with children and to watch them grow up.”  Summer Camp is a great opportunity for children to learn who they are. They make lifelong friends and develop skills that transfer to all aspects of their lives. I consider camps to be part of the education system where children get to have more choice and independence.  I love seeing the kids grow during the summer.”

“Watching the kids on Friday afternoons and seeing them off for the weekend with smiles, energy, and even the emotions of saying goodbye is rewarding,” Jordan continues.  “There is pride in knowing that we have helped kids grow up socially, emotionally, and physically during the course of the summer, as well as over many years. When the kids return each year, although they are bigger, it is like they never left. It is now at the point where so many of our counselors used to be campers.”

SS.Jordan.3.339

Future Stars Camps has been around for 36 years and keeping it fresh while maintaining the values that have made this summer day camp a family tradition are why parents, who attended as kids, want their children to come here.

“Early in my career I knew this was more than a summer job for me when I realized the impact and influence that I was having on the kids as well as the effect they were having on me! It was much more than just helping them become better tennis players. Over the years, I have kept in touch with so many of the “kids” at camp that are now adults, and it is an incredibly rewarding part of the role. I have connections to many different generations of campers and seeing them each go through different stages of life. And what is remarkable to me is how many of the campers have stayed connected and are truly lifelong friends.”