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Ian Reibeisen’s Future Stars’ Adventure

Future Stars (FS) isn’t just a “camp.” Admittedly, it is a camp, but it’s also a potentially life-changing place. This doesn’t mean that attending FS Camps will automatically turn you into a sports star. With attending, comes time, training, and an abundance of passion and dedication. You may ask, however; how can FS Camps change lives? Check out what former camper Ian Reibeisen had to say about his awesome experience and the years he spent at Future Stars Camps.

Future Stars Start

Ian couldn’t wait to begin FS Camps. His older brothers were campers before him and Ian couldn’t wait to jump into their footsteps. At age four, Ian convinced Jordan Snider, Camp Site Director at SUNY, Purchase, to let him enroll at Future Stars – a year or two earlier than most kids do.

That first year, Ian was more like a “director in training.”  No, he didn’t actually tackle the director’s duties. He did, however; follow Jordan around during all his daily tasks. Jordan wasn’t just a camp director to Ian. “I really looked up to him,” reminisced Ian.

Camp Continues

As the years went by, Ian attended FS Tennis camp at SUNY Purchase college, Armonk Tennis, and the sleep away camp at Ascutney (VT). Even though each camp was special to Ian, it was really the one at SUNY Purchase that held his favorite memories. What was so magical about SUNY Purchase? Ian said, “There was always something exciting going on – some of my favorite memories include when the whole tennis camp would participate in an activity together. For the first time in my life, I was in a group setting where a large group of people were all excited for the same thing.”

Even though Ian started attending camp with his older brothers, he made plenty of friends throughout the years. Not only did he make friends along the way, but he also got the chance to enjoy spending time with some pretty amazing counselors and coaches. Ian explained, “Every day at Future Stars was a dream come true for me because I was able to enjoy the things I loved the most while being surrounded by great coaches, counselors and friends.”

Lessons Learned

Did Ian have fun at camp? Of course! But that wasn’t all. He learned pertinent life lessons as well. Not only did he improve his tennis game, but he also learned about hard work.

“The weekly competition (tournament) taught me that I always needed to work hard to reach my potential – in this case, play smart and do my best. Because I worked so hard I had a lot of success on the court!” said Ian. The ability to work hard kept churning even when Ian stepped off the court, “I use that same work ethic off the court to pursue and achieve all my goals.”

Special Times

Along with learning life and tennis lessons, Ian also had the chance to form some special relationships. He looks back on his FS Camp years, remembering the fun times he had there. “One fun memory I had, as a 6-year-old, was when I was leaving on the bus; I would yell out to counselors and order hamburgers, pretending that I was going through a drive thru.”

Ian also remembers how the other FS campers and counselors became like a family to him. “It felt like the coming of age time in my life – I came into myself through the summers. I didn’t really enjoy school, so summer was a great time to find myself, be with friends, and play a sport that I loved.”

Growing Up

As Ian went through FS Camps (as a camper, and then eventually as a counselor), he trained and improved his tennis game. “Tennis runs in our DNA”. Ian and his brothers played USTA tournaments all around the country. Ian considered playing in college, but ended up following a different path. All three of Ian’s brothers (he has two older and one younger brother) played at Bucknell University.

So why didn’t Ian continue in tennis? Even though he loved tennis, he also fell in love with music. He’s now 27, has a business degree with a concentration in marketing from Quinnipiac University, and is pursuing a solo music career.

He credits Future Stars for helping him with his musical ambitions. How? He told us, “Without the confidence I gained as a camper I believe things wouldn’t have gone the way they did.” Not only did FS help Ian’s confidence, but it also helped him meet his first band-mate. “I started my first band with a friend that I met at FS day camp. We wrote and played music together for over 10 years.”

Now that Ian’s an adult, he still keeps in touch with some of his FS friends. He kept in touch with Jordan after his camp years and continues to look up to him. Having gone to camp for almost a decade, and then working as a coach and counselor, Ian considers himself a “lifer.” He still hears from some of his camp friends once in a while, and says, “It makes me happy to see that everyone is doing well. They’re definitely a group of people I will remember forever.”

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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.”

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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 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!