I was fortunate to be one of the pioneer coaches who traveled to Jamaica for the inaugural winter camp last year. I’ve know Dean, Winter Camp Jamaica’s founder, for quite some time so I was not worried at all about the trip logistics or how the camp would run once we got there.
We arrived a few days before the start of camp in order to settle in and take in our beautiful surroundings. Our accommodations in Cherry Gardens were great and our hostess went above and beyond my expectations. As an avid traveler, I always relish knowing someone in the foreign country who can help provide the non-traditional trip experience. Since Dean knows everyone, I knew this wouldn’t be the typical tourist visit.
I wasn’t wrong: I got to experience the culture first-hand through the food, music, nightlife and forging lasting relationships with the local coaches. I hiked in the Blue Mountains, dined out at hidden gems and local favorite spots, relaxed on the beach, took in the country air, explored the city, vibed at a reggae concert, and chilled at an impromptu house party – all with my fellow coaches and Dean’s local friends . Oh, and of course, we got to play some ball. For me, the trip was a perfect balance between my coaching responsibilities and leisure time. Everyone had time to explore their particular interests and experience the authentic local flavor they craved.
The camp ran from around 9 – 11:30 or 12 for four days. Each morning, the coaches would create their lesson plan for the day and in groups the kids would circuit through each coaches station, spending about 25 or 30 min. at each one. The enthusiasm the kids showed was infectious and resulted in everyone learning a lot and having fun. What made things run particularly smooth, was the presence of players from the local Portmore semi-pro team. A couple players partnered with each coach (I’m still in contact with my guy Busquets) and assisted throughout the duration of the camp. For the next camp, we are looking forward to implementing more of a health/nutrition focus during the practices, hopefully offering leadership and life skills training and getting more girls on the field!
Looking forward to the next winter and seeing familiar faces…
– Coach “Bry’on”