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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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5 Skills Your Child Will Learn By Playing Tennis

Tennis is a sport of a lifetime, you and your child will enjoy for years to come. If you are wondering if tennis would be the right fit for your child, here are 5 reasons you should sign your young athlete up for Tennis Camp today!

If you can see your future self quite happily sitting amongst royalty sipping champagne under the mediocre London sun whilst grinning proudly as your child takes home the Wimbledon trophy, then perhaps you should be encouraging your child to play tennis. This fast-paced sport is growing in popularity across the world as stars such as Federer and Serena Williams are inspiring a new generation to lift up their rackets and head out onto the court.

Aside from the obvious benefits of rubbing shoulders with the sporting elite and getting to boast to your friends about how your child has had to put up a bigger shelf to host all those trophies, there are plenty of reasons why your child will benefit from attending a tennis day camp this year. Here are just five of them:

1.  It Teaches Self Discipline

Unlike team sports, the focus of tennis is on the self. You can’t blame your teammates for a missed goal or a bad pass, you’re the only person on the court and it’s up to you as to how the game goes. If your child wants to do well, they’ll have to commit to working hard and training hard. Perfecting that serve is the ultimate lesson in self discipline and, with it, pride.

2.  It’s All About the Coordination

Tennis is a great way to improve your child’s hand-eye coordination. In fact, it’s good for all their fine motor skills. Your child will learn how to judge distance, strength, timing, as well as, mastering the skill of hitting a small ball with a racket. It sounds easy, but you try getting out on that court and see how many times you can beat Djokovic at the serve.

3.  It Teaches Sportsmanship

It might sound like a made up word, but sportsmanship is one of the most important skills you can teach your kid. Your child needs to learn how to win graciously as well as how to lose. Your child needs to learn how to compete fairly, how to lose with dignity and how to win whilst being respectful of their opponent’s feelings. Tennis will teach your child how to play fair, win with grace and lose with manners.

4.  It’s All About Strategy

Tennis is not an easy sport. You have to make a lot of decisions – and quickly. Your child will learn to think on their feet, react with their gut instinct and be flexible and responsive. Your child will learn when to play safe and when to take those all important risks. Tennis might look to the untrained eye like a simple game of back and forth, but it’s way more complicated than that. Your child will learn key analytical and problem solving skills.

5.  It’s Fun

What should kids be doing during the school vacation? Err, having fun. Isn’t that obvious? Tennis is a great way to achieve that goal. Your child will be learning new skills but, most importantly, they’ll be having fun with their friends. They’ll meet new people, get some exercise and feel proud of their achievements. There are few things more enjoyable in life than feeling proud of yourself.

Plus, you might one day get to share a bottle of champagne with The Queen. Maybe.

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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? 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!

Five Benefits of Tennis for Young Athletes

IMG_3601Synopsis: Enrolling young children in tennis will not only expose them to a great sport now, but could also could lead to a lifelong passion for this popular game.

While in the United States tennis might not be as popular as sports like baseball or football, it remains a great option for young athletes. As a parent trying to decide which sports will benefit your children the most, be sure to consider tennis as an option. Following are five benefits of choosing tennis as one of your child’s sports.

#1 – Great Exercise

There is no doubt that tennis is great exercise. Rather than the long, sustained running that is seen in sports like soccer or track, tennis players run quickly in short bursts throughout a match. At the end of the day, however, they have worked as hard (or harder) than players in any other sport. The conditioning gained through tennis can apply to a number of other sports, as tennis players develop lateral quickness, change of direction abilities, and more. A young person who goes through a season of tennis practice and matches will certainly be in excellent physical condition when they are finished.

#2 – Learning Skills

One of the best things about enrolling your children in sports is giving them the opportunity to learn specific skills. In the short-term, they learn how to play the sport. In the long-term, they develop the ability to learn how to complete a task, which is something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. There are a number of skills taught to young people on the tennis court, including footwork, forehand, backhand, serve, volley, and more.

#3 – Solo Endeavor

When talking about singles tennis, the player is all alone on the court against their opponent. For a child, this can be difficult at first, but it helps to develop a self-reliance that can be valuable later in life. There is nowhere to hide on a tennis court, so the player is required to step up to the challenge and perform their best.

#4 – Path to College

While a college scholarship should never be the main motivation for participating in junior athletics, the path to such a reward for tennis players is less-crowded than it is in other sports. Even if a scholarship isn’t attained, the opportunity to continue playing tennis on the small college level exists for many high school team members.

#5 – Lifelong Sport

Much like golf, tennis is a sport that can be continued on into adulthood. Tennis courts are available in many public places, and it is an activity that can often be enjoyed for free. Remaining active in tennis later on in life is a great way to stay in shape, enjoy some friendly competition, and spend time outdoors. Plenty of young tennis players will fall in love with the game and continue to play it for decades to come.

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Preparation

As we are lucky to be witnesses to this incredible era of tennis we need to realize that it is more than just “great players” competing. Through modern sports science, psychology, training techniques, nutritional practices, and equipment, today’s players are reaching new heights. Even more important is the dedication, hard work, and commitment that they put into their profession.

In the 1980s John McEnroe stated that he did not enjoy practicing; in fact, he used his doubles play as his “practice.” He was one of the greatest doubles players in the world but in today’s game we see very few of the top men playing doubles. Martina Navratilova and Ivan Lendl began the era of physical conditioning which coincided with other sports improved training methods. Sport specific training has been continually evolving and allowing athletes in all sports to compete at incredible levels. In the Australian Open we saw some amazing matches that included Djokovic’s almost 5 hour win over Wawrinka and Ferrer’s marathon match over Amalgado (not to mention last year’s historic matches which included Djokovic over Nadal in the finals in an almost 6 hour match after a grueling battle in the semis against Andy Murray).

During his press conference, Djokovic said,

“I mean the people who don’t know tennis, who have never been in those kinds of situations would not truly understand what the player has to go through, not just when you prepare for a Grand Slam but also during a Grand Slam,” Djokovic said. “After five hours of match, you need to really put a lot of time into recovery, different kinds of recoveries.

“As I said, I understand that many people have many different views and opinions, and I respect that. But I’m doing everything that is legal, that is correct, that is natural that I can, possibly can, in my power. And it’s working well.” For Djokovic Recovery is the Routine, NY Times.

In addition to the physical toll that a match like this takes, one cannot underestimate the focus that is required to endure a 5 hour competition at that level. Tennis, in particular, is a unique sport in that there are no teammates to lean on or coaches to give you a mid-match game plan. Even the other individual sports do not compare – golfers have a caddy with them and boxers have their trainers in their corner.

Preparation requires more than just “hard work.” It entails working hard correctly and managing one’s time. An athlete needs to be committed but should also have the right people advising, training, and coaching them to optimize their hard work and make it efficient as simply “putting in more time” doesn’t cut it anymore.

It could be argued that the true student-athletes have an even more daunting task in balancing their commitment to their sport with their academic responsibilities. And younger children also need to find the right balance for their lives (and their families’ lives). However, the lesson of preparation that can be instilled in athletes of all ages is critical. It is something that can be transferred to every aspect of life. The bigger picture here is that we can teach work ethic to our young athletes in addition to helping guide them to a healthy lifestyle through sports. The “event” – match, game, tournament, test, report, project, etc. – requires time before, during, and after to achieve success.