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Our soccer coach finds camp friends and 21st century skills in Spain

Yesterday I received an incredible email from Tom Shanks, our long-time head of soccer at Evergreen, our summer camp for girls. Tom is studying abroad this semester in Spain, and he could not wait to tell me all about the life lessons he was learning, and how our brother-sister summer camp community continues to be such an important part of his life. Take a look below to read what he wrote:

As part of my degree in Spanish, French and Portuguese, it is compulsory that I spend a year of my degree living abroad to immerse myself in the target languages, as well as learning about and exposing myself to various cultures. After spending my first semester in the French Alps studying at l’Université Grenoble Alpes, I was preparing and organizing my second semester placement in Madrid. The first thing on my list was – accommodation! Where could I possibly live?

RELATED: Soccer Tom Discusses the 21st Century Skills You Learn Playing Sports At Our Overnight Camp

21st_Century_Skills.jpgTom coaching a group of Evergreen soccer players

I had a huge desire to find a host family to live with during my 5 months in Spain, in order to maximize my exposure to the Spanish language. On top of that, as someone who has never had a drop of alcohol, the notorious student drinking culture and partying lifestyle of Madrid isn’t really my scene. Playing sports and participating in weekend cultural activities is what puts a smile on my face. I decided to make a post on my Facebook page to my friends asking if anybody knew a family in Madrid that would be willing to take in a 21-year-old student for 5 months. Within minutes, Camps Kenwood and Evergreen’s Head Counselor David Walsh messaged me saying that he was going to get in touch with K&E’s referral agent in Spain, Rosina Bernar. He thought maybe she might be able to find me somewhere to live.

For the past 10 years Rosina has been bringing families from Spain and Italy to our brother-sister summer camp community. I had the pleasure of meeting her during my first summer at camp, and working with so many of her talented students each summer. Amazingly, she got in contact with me. A few days later, she informed me that she had found me a family very close to the centre of Madrid. The family that had offered my into their home for 5 months was one of our very own summer camp families – the family of Borja and Barbara Diaz-Guardamino! ¡Excelente! 

Learn why our campers love playing sports at Kenwood and Evergreen

I had been Barbara’s soccer coach during the summers and also I had lived in the same unit as Borja this past summer, so I knew that living with two of our fantastic campers was going to be a great experience with seamless integration. Living with campers outside of the camp environment isn’t that much different! Borja, for example, has kept up the tradition of making me the BEST cheeseburgers just like he did from the Hut 6 grill. Of course, we don’t have Milk and Cookies time each afternoon, and our daily routine and setting is completely different, but our relationships are the same. All of this reinforces Scott Brody’s axiom that ‘we could host camp in a car park and it’d still be as fun’.

camp friends

Great time with the Diaz-Guardamino family!

I’d like to see some videos about CampsK&E’s
program and community

camp friendsLiving with these members of the Kenwood and Evergreen family every day, and being able to spend quality time working on further developing my own 21st century skills that we focus at our summer camp, is a huge pleasure. The family here has been phenomenal. They have welcomed me into their home, introducing me to their friends and family, and even managed to help me start some work in Madrid. Currently I am a ‘monitor’ (a general counselor type roll) assisting the running of science-themed birthday parties for boys that are full of fun explosions and experiments! It’s a great experience, and has definitely given me some fun ideas to bring to camp too! 

Last week, I also went to see my first Real Madrid soccer game at the famous Santiago Bernabéu. I was invited to go to this game with Juan Casla, an ex-camper and counselor at our NH summer camp. Juan was also my first co-counselor in 2014. It was fantastic to catch up with another great camp friend in a completely different continent from where we first met. I will also be travelling to Bilbao during my time here to visit another two Spanish campers of ours, Diego and Thea Zavala, and then I will be passing by Barcelona as well to pay a visit to Victor Plaza, one of our Hut 6 campers in 2014. All I can say is that camp friends truly are forever – and a good time is being had by all!

RELATED: Why Overnight Camp Is So Incredible At Helping Children Grow and Develop Their 21st Century Skills 

Tom and Scott are really onto something. The friendships we form here at our little brother-sister summer camp in NH stretch all over the United States and the world, and often have a profound impact on our entire lives. We invite you to learn why more than 94% of our campers return each summer, and why so many campers form the best, most important friendships of their lives here. 

Learn why Kenwood and Evergreen friendships last a lifetime