Skyhawks News
Dealing with Smoky Days

August 20th, 2018

smokeSmokey days from wildfires in the late summer months have become the norm over the past few years. Your child’s health is our #1 concern, and Skyhawks has a number of steps in place to handle days with less-than-ideal air quality. First and foremost - your child’s health is our #1 concern. Skyhawks tires to avoid canceling or rescheduling camps, but the AQI (air quality index, more on that later) reaches a certain point, we will do so to protect our campers. 

On smoky days, Skyhawks uses the AQI (Air Quality Index) and the EPA’s AirNow conditions as a reference for determining the need to relocate, reschedule, or cancel camps. According to the EPA, there are six air quality categories that range from Good to Unhealthy and Hazardous. When the “Unhealthy” range is reached, Skyhawks works with our partner organizations to try and find an indoor location if possible and avoid cancellations. Generally speaking, moving to an indoor location will provide a healthy enough environment for our campers when the AQI is in the “Unhealthy” range. However, ordinances in some areas require cancellation of outdoor activities for youth once the AQI reaches the “Unhealthy” level. No matter what, when the AQI passes into the “Hazardous” range even moving inside won’t provide a healthy enough environment, and that’s when we start canceling camps for the day.

If you have a child in a program that needs to be relocated or canceled, Skyhawks customer service will be in contact with you via email or phone. We’ll let you know as soon as is possible so you can plan accordingly. 

If you have any concerns about your child’s upcoming camp(s), please give us a call at 800.804-3509 and one of our customer service representatives will be happy to answer any questions.

Ready For The Eclipse?

August 16th, 2017

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 3 months, you’ve no doubt been getting an eye and an earful about next week’s solar eclipse. Depending on where your child’s program is location and their program’s schedule next week, your child may have a perfect opportunity to view the eclipse! Feel free to send them with the correct protective glasses or filters/viewers. If you’re planning on sending your child with glasses and/or filters to view the eclipse: here’s a couple things to remember from NASA's eclipse page:

  - Glasses and viewers must be designated as ISO 12312-2.

  - Glasses and viewers must be less than 3 years old and not have any scratches or cracks on the lenses.

Before you drop your child off at their program, remind them of a few things: 

  - Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  - Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  - Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.

All Skyhawks programs are continuing as scheduled, and we’re excited for to kick off the week’s programs with this rare event! If you have any questions regarding your child and their program next week, please call our customer service department at 800.804.3509

Why I Keep Coming Back To Skyhawks

May 24th, 2017

The following is a guest post written by Jacob FIll, returning Skyhawks coach in San Jose, CA.

coach-kid

My birthday is coming up this summer.  I’d say I’m pretty lucky to have a summer birthday, especially as a college student.  One of the great things about a summer birthday for me is that I get to spend it with my family.  One of the bad things about spending it with my family is that my mother, every year, forces me to look through her old scrapbooks of my childhood.  Every year we sit down, against my will, and look through some embarrassing pictures of me as a child, but every year I take an extra long look at one picture in particular; it’s a picture of me as a toddler, being held up by my father to dunk on a plastic Fischer-Price basketball hoop.  This picture in particular is special to me because it symbolizes my love for sports.  

I have played sports my entire life, both at a highly competitive level and at a recreational level in college.  Once I realized my basketball playing days would be over after high school, my initial thought was, “How can I continue participating in sports without playing at the college level?”  I quickly realized coaching was what I wanted to do.  Having good and bad coaches throughout my playing career helped me realize what makes a good coach.  My good coaches taught me what works well, and my not-so-good coaches taught me what doesn't.  In addition to my basketball coaching knowledge, my love for working with kids had ignited in me a desire to coach. There’s just something about being able to pass along my love for sports and make a positive impact on a young athlete’s life that makes me excited to get up every morning and go to Skyhawks camps.  

I had worked as a volunteer sports camp counselor near home before, but that doesn't come close to comparing to how Skyhawks operates.  Skyhawks is a very unique summer camp organization.  In my opinion, Skyhawks’ best attribute is their ability to give each and every child individual attention.  When I volunteered previously, I saw some kids being left behind in certain games or activities.  For example, one time I noticed a child struggling to shoot the basketball, and I knew exactly how to fix the problem, but because of the unfavorable child-to-counselor ratio, I wasn't able to take time to give him individual coaching.  As a Skyhawks coach, this is never a problem.  When something like this happens, there is always at least one coach available to teach the child how to properly shoot the basketball.  And let me tell you, the feeling you get when a camper takes your advice, makes a shot, and his/her face lights up with excitement, is absolutely priceless.  

coach-high5

As a junior in college, I could have taken a lot of different routes this summer.  I could have chosen a full-time paid internship.  I could have chosen to work at a restaurant and make tons of spending money off of tips.  I could have chosen to take summer classes.  Instead, I chose to come back as a Skyhawks coach.  What better way to make money than to do what you love every single day? I come home on Fridays knowing I made a difference in some child’s life that week.  I come home feeling good about how I was able to pass along my love for sports to the next generation of athletes.  At the end of the day, I come home on Fridays glad to be a Skyhawks coach.  

Try Everything This Summer!

May 9th, 2017

This article was written by Skyhawks Franchise Owner Brett Gardner and is cross-posted from Redwood City Parks, Recreation & Community Sevices blogClick Here To View The Original Aricle.

twosportslice

Much has been written over the past several years about specializing in one sport vs. letting kids play as many sportsas possible. There is all this literature that benchmarks what age kids should be when they specialize. I come down firmly in the camp of NEVER. Unless your child is an elite gymnast or dancer, there is no argument to be made for specializing in a sport. Ask professional athletes how many of them “specialized” in the sport they now play. I’d hazard a guess that the answer is none.

But, sports have gotten really out of hand thanks to the business model behind competitive sports. Coaches are hired to develop players for college sports programs. That’s what they are paid to do. I hear parents talking about this even with a team of eight-year-olds!

If you are reading this and you have teenagers, I hope you’re nodding your head in agreement. Parents of younger children, read on. Sports is not a career for your child. It’s an activity and it should be one of many.

But, more importantly, not all kids like sports. As the parent of two very athletic children and the owner of a company that runs sports camps, I should be shouting from rooftops about the benefits of sports. But, I have also seen what happens when kids are pushed too hard.

I am a big believer in the “try everything” model of parenting. You never know what’s going to stick. When my kids were little, we tried it all — from ball sports to gymnastics to theater to martial arts to dance.  Some of it stuck and much of it didn’t. The questions we asked our kids were, “was it fun?” and “did you learn anything worthwhile?” Next, we asked them if they wanted to do that activity again.

twosportslice2

With child number one, the answer was invariably, yes. With the other one, it was almost always, NO! Different kids, different interests. Even though child number one seemed to like everything and child number two seemed to hate most things, I still think the try everything model was good for both of them.

With limited time during the school year, we often used summer camps to let our kids try different activities. Many families didn’t understand why we would do this. If my daughter was “an athlete,” why weren’t we sending her only to sports camps? She plays ball sports nine months out of the year. Does she really need more sports at age eight? We thought it was far more important for her to experience different things. So we encouraged her to try science camps, cooking lessons, etc. She loved some of them and was less enthusiastic about others. But, she got to try something new, which was the most important thing.

As summer is looming, think about things your kids have never done before.  It could be a new sport, like flag football. Or, it could be dance or robotics. Try everything. You just never know what will stick!

Earn Camp Discounts at the ParentMap Eastside Camp Fair in Bellevue, WA!

February 2nd, 2017

Camp Fair Info

The Frustratingly Unavoidable Draw of Video Games

June 23rd, 2014

Here’s a little “virtual” reality for you: Video gaming is a more than 25 billion dollar industry. That’s twice as much money as Hollywood movies make each year.

Gaming has a massive influence on children—an estimated 99 percent of kids play an hour a day (that’s according to Psychology Today, but I can’t believe it’s that high). The draw of video games is strong…certainly enough to decrease the number of boys who participate in team sports and civic clubs.

My son showed me a 14-minute video a few days ago “Why We Play Games”…to help me understand/tolerate why he can play hours on end. I tried; I really did, to remain open-minded and accepting. I tried. But even the most compelling case, backed by science, can not convince me that staring at a screen—even a fascinating one-will ever offer the benefits of playing outside with others, or even alone!

Clinical Psychologist and gaming developer Dr. Scott Rigby asserts in Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound asserts that video game playing “fulfills three core needs”:

1. Competence

2. Autonomy

3. Relatedness

Gaming may provide children—if you believe Rigby— an experience of COMPETENCY by letting them develop mastery; learning, growing and progressing as they rise up levels in a video game. But I assert that, in a very real not at all virtual world, you get a more powerful and personal sense of competency by becoming a more masterful reader, hitter or kicker.

AUTONOMY, the book claims, is accomplished by video gaming because it gives players the sense they have control over their actions and the world around them. They get to “choose their own adventures.” At this moment, as I am researching the validity of these claims, my son is next to me playing Skyrim, cited as a perfect example of a game that allows you to choose aspects of your appearance, home and quest.

RELATEDNESS (I really can barely discuss this one without rolling my eyes) applies to multiplayer games, where kids (some from other countries! It’s like the United Nations!) talk through headsets working together to finish a mission.

Dutch researchers suggest that not only do the newer video games provide young people with compelling social, cognitive, and emotional experiences; they also can potentially boost mental health and well-being.

Gamers wrote all of this, trust me. Gamers with psychology degrees.

Well, guess what? Here’s three more key needs (not already discussed and proven by Skyhawks through 30 years of camps) fulfilled by young people playing on teams.

1. Intensity

2. Continuity

3. Balance

INTENSITY: according to Psychology Today, (yea, more psychologists!) “With greater time commitment, children develop better mastery of skills and superior knowledge of tactics and strategy”…leading to “the development of strategic thinking…including the ability to find and excel in the job market.”

CONTINUITY: While sporadic or intermittent participation is better than no playing, a commitment to team sports over teaches kids to “overcome challenges and obstacles in their performance,” as well as “opportunities to interact with teammates, learning to cope with the interpersonal challenges of working with others.”

BALANCE refers to children participating in activities that present real-world challenges, like volunteering in their communities, achieve greater developmental benefits. These activities encourage youth to develop a civic identity and see a world beyond a game of winning and losing.

Want to go deeper into the study of the long-term benefits and even potential pitfalls of long-term involvement in youth sports? Paradoxes of Youth and Sport, by Margaret Getz.

Oh, and sorry, son, I still don’t get it. Let's go shoot baskets.

No, Java-coding is Just NOT a Summer Activity

April 27th, 2014

My dad never woke me up at ten A.M. on a sunny spring or summer morning to say,

”Get out of bed, the computer screen is getting cold and that Java code isn’t going to write itself!”

(Granted, personal computer screens didn’t even exist when I was little.)

I can almost guarantee that even Mark Zuckerberg’s mother didn’t promote excessive technology use; she was trying to do what we all do… get our kids OUT THERE. You know, into the WORLD.

I have a dominant right bicep after the daily prying of mobile devices from my teenage son’s desperate hands when he needs to eat, sleep or do homework.

So it’s tough to be open-minded about the new existence of “TECH SUMMER CAMPS.”

You can find plenty of experts (since I’ve declared myself not to be, beyond having a Masters degree in Elementary Education) who will say that the knowledge kids gain in game-modding, java script coding and robotics are vital, particularly in the promotion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

It’s also great if the talents of computer geniuses can be celebrated. However, I shudder to think that these high-cost, indoor-dominated “camps” would be a child’s only away-from-home summer experience.

A promise on one popular computer camp’s website? “Be Like Steve.” To be clear, Steve is NOT the charismatic green-stripe-shirted man who used to host Blue’s Clues (OMG, mom, that’s SO pre-2001. That’s even pre-OMG!) Steve is a Minecraft hero: A pixelated cube warrior guy who mines himself pixelated cube castles, and protects said castles from the likes of pixelated cubed “Creepers.” Or something like that. Is Minecraft a less violent, more creative gaming alternative than Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty? Of course, but neither is even in the same world as a traditional day or overnight camp.

The child-centered watchdogs at Common Sense Media are onto the trend, too.

“Instead of rolling rivers, cabins, and canoes,” on camp brochures, they write, “it’s all about computer screens, ear buds, and kids gathered around an iPad.”

Technology, in the form of streaming TV shows and movies, social media, personal computers and smart phones are for disengaging in life – not a replacement for engaging.

Camp is a sacred time to be AWAY from technology, to unplug and engage with other un-plugged children, trees and grass and sky. And in our opinion, it ideally involves balls – soccer, base or basket – skillfully led by actual coaches.

And, ok, fine, we’ll even try to find you one named Steve.