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Who are the people behind Future Stars? Julia Duffy’s Journey from Camper to Counselor

First day of camp and jittery nerves go together like bread and butter.  Julia Duffy looks back at her 12-year-old self and remembers quite clearly how nervous she was.  As she got off the bus to walk across the long field, she met a camper from a neighboring town.  By the time they reached the end of the field, her nerves had calmed down and she had made a new friend.  For Julia, this chance encounter ended up leading to a long-term friendship with her new friend’s older sister.

Julia and her younger brother were outgrowing their local town camp and family friends recommended Future Stars Camp.  Since then, Julia and her brother have spent all or most of their last 6 summers at Future Stars’ SUNY Purchase Camp location.

Now at 18 and a senior in high school, Julia was a camp counselor for the last 2 years and 3 years ago she was a Counselor-in-Training (CIT).  Her young brother was a CIT last year.  Julia says, ” I went to soccer camp with my brother but I quickly made new friends. I still keep in touch with a lot of campers from my first year.  I even plan to visit some of them at their universities”

Julia loved soccer camp, she tried tennis camp but came right back to soccer.  Julia plays soccer for her high school and attributes her game skills to her first counselor, Anna Edwards.  Anna is now Julia’s manager and current Soccer Director at Future Stars (FS) Camp.   Great rapport with your manager improves employees’ potential and morale, Julia says, “I feel really comfortable asking Anna for advice when I need help with my own counseling.”

At camp, Julia made a lot of new friends from different towns and even different countries.  She remembers playing soccer with French and Italian campers.  When asked what her camp experience was like she said, ” My time at FS Camps, in a nutshell, was a great experience where I made a lot of new, diverse friends who all shared a common interest with me.”

However, her voice takes a real lilt when she talks about how she loved the drills and games both as a camper and as a counselor.  “Typically, each day of the week at soccer camp has a theme. Monday is dribbling, Tuesday is passing, Wednesday is 3v3 tournaments, Thursday is shooting, and Friday is competition day. The counselors really kept me engaged with a good mix of drills and games, along with competition to get us all moving. This experience later taught me to be engaging as a counselor as well. Individually, I’d say I became more confident in my abilities as a player through countless skill drills, and as a team player, I really learned to work with other players of different skill levels.”

Julia’s FS Camp journey from young camper to mature counselor has been fulfilling.  “Being a soccer counselor, in my opinion, means keeping the campers engaged and having fun, as well as, teaching them about a sport I love. I’ve been a counselor for two years and I am playing soccer at my high school. I am not looking to play soccer at a varsity level in college, but possibly at a club level depending on where I end up.”

There are so many aspects to camp and Julia said, “My favorite part of Future Stars were the scrimmages at the end of the day, where different groups of different ages came together and formed teams to play a full 11v11 game. The counselors would join together and have a “draft” and we would have a week long tournament with our teams, and everyone really gets into it.”

You can’t talk about a day camp and not mention food.  “There is an option to bring lunch but the food was so good at camp.  We had a salad bar, pasta station, sandwich station and hot lunch.  It was really cool to go into a college cafeteria and chose what I wanted to eat.”

Future Stars Camps is not just all about the drills, games and the food.  ” Jordan Snider, Site Director at SUNY, Purchase, has had a lasting impression on me because of his dedication to the camp.  Jordan makes an effort to visit soccer camp every day, and even takes the time to join a scrimmage or game.  Every year that I come back to FS, I see a lot of the same people but I also make new friends. It has been a great experience for me, from camper to counselor, and I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in soccer.”

Julia, wherever you end up, they will be lucky to have you.  Thank you too for all the gifts that you have brought to us!

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”