Youth Sport Camps counselors gain career experience while helping youth achieve wellness

This summer, the Colorado State University Department of Health and Exercise Science wrapped up its 51st year of Youth Sport Camps. The camps have continued to promote healthy and active lifestyles for children while emphasizing fun and wellbeing. A massive part of the camp’s success comes from the fantastic work that camp counselors do, every summer. In this Q&A, we highlight the work of two YSC counselors: Anna Bechtel and Kendall Crepeau.

Anna Becthel and Kendall Crepeau stand next to students from the Youth Sports Camps.
Anna Bechtel (left) and Kendall Crepeau (right) stand next to students from the Youth Sports Camps.

Where are you from? What attracted you to CSU?

  • Anna: My name is Anna and I’m from Castle Rock, CO! I wanted to go to a college in-state because I love Colorado, and when I toured CSU I fell in love with Fort Collins and how much there is to do here, whether it be hiking, going to Horsetooth, or going into Old Town for an afternoon!
  • Kendall: My name is Kendall Crepeau and I’m in my final year here at CSU. I’m from Highlands Ranch, Colorado. I was attracted to CSU because of the campus environment. I loved the people that I met when I toured campus and all of the different opportunities that CSU provided! I’ve always loved Colorado, so staying close to home was an added bonus!

What did/are you studying at CSU?

  • Anna: I studied pre-health Biology in the College of Natural Sciences, but I’ve always been drawn to science, especially relative to how the human body works and all the mechanisms involved in keeping us alive and functioning. If I could go back, I would choose HES!
  • Kendall: I originally came into CSU as an undeclared student and had the opportunity to try many different classes. I was instantly drawn to Health and Exercise Science classes and the opportunity to enter a major and career that would lead me to helping others. HES is such a broad major and I felt that I would be able to have a range of experiences not only on campus, but in my post-undergraduate life as well.

How and why did you apply to be a Youth Sports Camps counselor?

  • Anna: I applied to be a YSC counselor because one of my sorority sisters told our chapter that they were hiring a few summers ago. I was looking for a reason to stay in Fort Collins for the summer after moving out of the dorms, so it worked out perfectly! I also love working with kids so it was the best of both worlds.
  • Kendall: I love working with kids and hope to be a pediatric occupational therapist in the future, so working as a YSC counselor seemed like a great opportunity to get some experience. I had also heard great things about the work environment from previous counselors, so I was excited to be a part of that.

What does an average day at camp look like?

  • Anna: In the mornings, the kids arrive before 9. After everyone gets there, we usually have a group meeting and go over rules/what we’re doing for the day, and then do warm ups and stretches. We learn the basic technique for the sport we’re doing that day (in Field Sports camp, at least) and the kids get to practice kicking the soccer ball or throwing a football with friends. Then it’s snack time, and afterwards we’ll do a sport-related activity like goal-scoring or defensive techniques. After lunch we get to watch a little bit of a movie as a chance to rest and get out of the sun, and then we swim. The afternoon consists of more sport-related games (and lots of shade breaks if it gets really warm!) and before you know it, it’s the end of the day and the kids get picked up.
  • Kendall: I would say there isn’t really an “average” day at camp. With so many different camp sessions and new campers coming each week, there’s always something new about each day. Throughout the week we have so many fun activities and the days are full of new experiences!

How are you applying what you’ve learned from school to your current position?

  • Anna: Even though I wasn’t HES, I took a few classes in the HES department…the biggest thing I’ve learned from school that I can apply to this job is the importance of movement and healthy eating to the human body, especially developing kids bodies, and that’s what we focus on here–getting kids active and teaching them healthy lifestyles!
  • Kendall: In class we’ve talked a lot about physical activity and lifestyle patterns for all age groups. I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned about motivation styles and health behaviors to work with the campers to create an appreciation for active lifestyles!

What is the biggest lesson that you will take home from this experience?

  • Anna: The biggest lesson I will take home is generally how to deal with all kinds of people, especially children. Some kids that come to camp may have issues at home, or behavioral problems, or won’t be emotionally mature quite yet. I have learned how I can try to best help those kiddos through their problems and be a friendly face if they’re having issues. I also learned the importance of recognizing kids that are absolutely awesome so they don’t go unnoticed! Overall, this job has improved my patience exponentially as a result of working with kids, and also greatly improved my confidence in my leadership skills.
  • Kendall: The biggest lesson that I’ll take home from this experience is patience! While I had a blast every day at camp, there were definitely many lessons where I had to learn patience with the campers and myself. I think it is important to have experiences that allow you to try things that are challenging and taking the time to overcome those experiences can teach you a lot about yourself.

What do you hope to accomplish in your career?

  • Anna: This next year, I will be working at a local pediatrician’s office, and next summer I will return to camp to be the Assistant Director! After that, I want to pursue a Master’s of Public Health, which funnily enough is only a result of this job–I had no idea MPH programs existed until I saw a poster for it hanging in the hallway last summer at camp.
  • Kendall: I hope to enjoy my senior year and take advantage of every opportunity and experience that this year brings! Although the structure of this past year hasn’t been what I imagined my college experience to be, I’ve loved it and want to continue to make the most of my time in Fort Collins.

What advice do you have for incoming freshman in your major?

  • Anna: Go to office hours! Make study groups so you can help each other study and learn.
  • Kendall: Say YES! Try new things, get involved in organizations that support you and your aspirations, and seek new opportunities! You’ll get the most out of your major by what you put into it. Take the time to meet with professors, GTA’s, and connect with others in the HES major. There are so many sources of support that will change your experience tremendously!

The Department of Health and Exercise Science is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.