Participation. Period.

AKASPORT Summer 2019

AKASPORT Summer 2019

I know, I know…… it’s been a while.
We’ve been away building…
for a better tomorrow.

AKA Summer 2019 was incredible. Its never easy to put into words but we grew and we learned a ton. Well at least I did. Side from a short few, I think we covered most sports and MN field trip destinations. AKASPORT’s programming and vision, philosophically and geographically speaking, are expanding. Our numbers are up but of course, the quality can always be improved. Again, we’re building here. To me the most important thing is that we keep kids Active, Safe and Having Fun! Keep Participation going Up!

…..Now back to the lab to Keep it all Moving!

There’s a lot of talk these days about participation rates in segments of youth sports dropping. Club sports costs are skyrocketing, kids are specializing more, access to quality active programming, coaching and mentorship is showing limits and the pressures of life are affecting our kids in more ways than society can understand!

As the Aspen Institute (Project Play) clearly puts it, “The number of kids playing sports keeps decreasing, especially lower-income youth. Only 37 percent of all kids ages 6-12 played team sports on a regular basis in 2017 – down from 45 percent in 2008. This is a public health concern as physical activity declines for youth.”



I like to think that I am a visionary. I look at everything (for better and for worse). Side from my emotional attachment to climate change and violence/bullying in schools, concerns which I don’t have the direct answers to fixing, I do have great concern and think big picture for the absolute need to increase youth sports, recreation and FITNESS participation for our Future! The research is out there (@ckbergland (thanks Chris)), now we (I) just need to act further on making it happen.

15 years into AKASPORT, providing sports camps and afterschool programs, I know we’ve got a few ideas that work. Now its time to act further and take this all to greater scale. (plug for my new Hero, @GretaThunberg and all her young, stoic, work with Climate Change for the Future!)

NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT… YOUTH SPORTS PARTICIPATION NEEDS ATTENTION!! Stay tuned for now… thanks for your support and to all our Staff and Families for an amazing summer!

I’ll be back soon. Reach me anytime, email chris@akasport.org

All the Best in Sport, CS


Don't let the Snow distract you!

“Commit your entire Life to a Dream. You will find it!” @CaseyNeistat

Don’t let the Snow distract you… Spring and Summer are on the way, Minnesota! Choose AKA for your kids to stay active and healthy!!


10 reasons to choose AKA this Summer!

Currently -6 Fahrenheit in the Twin Cities .

Staying positive…

Thinking Summer!!

Rather than delaying the inevitable - usually this type of post is for Tax Time/Spring Time - I wanted to provide new and current family customers with why we feel AKA Summer Camps are for your kids! Check out what we’ve come up with below and if you have any other reasons for choosing AKA or Summer Camps in general, please feel free to chime in.

Thinking Summer… 10 reasons to choose AKA this Summer!

  1. Variety of Sports & Activities. That’s what we do. Each week promotes a different sport theme. Loaded with plenty of technical training, games and skills competitions, the goal is to get kids to learn and find greater passion for their favorite sports. Of course we add a variety of other games in the morning and afternoons to fill their day and week.
    Archery, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bicycling, Canoeing, Cricket, Dodgeball, Fishing, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Hockey, Ice Sports, Kickball, Lacrosse, Ninja, Pickleball, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball….what did we miss?!
    New this year…
    **More carved out time for more reading, board games, creative games, arts, crafts and special projects.
    **Elite Feature. Kids seeking more elite/advanced level training will indicate that before the week starts and we will group them in Elite Camper groups for that particular sport. More information once you register!

  2. Flexibility / Structure of AKA Summer Programming.
    Full summer or individual weeks registration acceptable.
    Aside from not providing drop in days or shortened week system, we are flexible with everything else. Need to drop off later or pickup early, easy. Need us to transport your kid to another program on Campus, not a problem. Prefer to select individual weeks instead of the full summer… that’s what we do! In full, AKA is a full day operation as doors open at 7:00am and close at 6:00pm.
    New this Year…
    ** Individual Week payments can be broken up with a payment plan. All that is required at the time of registration is the deposit.

  3. Field Trips - Everyone’s Favorite! Well next to Free Time

  4. Tax Breaks and Dependent Care (Childcare)
    Your kids are covered!
    AKASPORT Summer Camp programs qualify for all Childcare tax credits and Dependent care needs through your employer. Let us know if you need tax statements and we will be happy to provide.
    AKA Tax ID#03-0545137

  5. AKA Value - per hour/per day
    Less than $50 per day! And if you take advantage of full summer discounts… LESS THAN $36 PER DAY!

  6. Facilities
    Over 15 years, we have partnered with the best sports facilities, cities and community centers around. We are currently involved with the new (Adrenaline), the renovated (Hopkins Pavilion), the more educational and enriching (Centennial HS) and the largest in the world (National Sports Center).

  7. Healthy Living and Healthy Meals!
    Proud to be partnered with Healthy Bites and Lisa’s Catering delivering the healthiest lunches and healthy vibes to AKASPORT kids and families!

  8. AKA Staff - Teachers, Physical Education professionals, Professional Sports Coaches and Partners and the Coolest College and High School Coaches, Mentors and Leaders around.
    All education minded…we are proud of our 60-70% staff return rate each year.

  9. Leadership & Self Esteem!
    Sportsmanship, Confidence, Teamwork, Aptitude to Succeed, Routine, Personal Growth, Make Friends, Make Memories…Leadership and Self Esteem!
    For 15 years, AKASPORT proves that Sport is a leading vehicle to positive development! AKA Summer Camps fit the bill.

  10. Social Element - (Boss’s everyday plug)
    Sports are life for many of us. But it is the social element in sport that makes us well rounded as individuals, young and old. Rather than sit alone staring at the tv/computer or relying solely on electronic devices… get out and get social with AKASPORT and everyone involved!

  11. Bonus : Wearing Kids Out for 15 Years! ;) Full Day Workout.

    Don’t get me wrong, rest is vital and we encourage rest and reading throughout. But the best youth training is the most physically exhausting!

“I love this camp and have recommended it to a lot of people. It is the only time my kid is tired during the year.”
— One Happy Parent

AKA Summer 2018 - Another Camp Season in the Books

People often ask me what I do outside of June - July - August, the most intensive, yet rewarding schedule of my year as the AKA Summer All Sports Camp remain as the heart and soul of AKASPORT.

Well for starters, September is my month to breathe, to wrap up loose ends and to review what went well and what did not throughout the AKA Summer. In October we put together the vision and the details for the following year (as well as launch our seasonal AKA After School and Charitable Giving programs) and November through May we get back to work in filling programs and boosting all of those people, Staff and Partners, who make AKA all work.

Having two solid facilities this Summer, a strong staff from top to bottom and hundreds of amazing kids!, I must say that AKA Summer 2018 was a great success!

Highlights and Low-lights from the 2018 Summer AKA All Sports Camp Season:

  • Near Perfect Summer Weather! Unlike 2017, this year I only had to move around a couple schedules or events based on the weather. Not too hot, not too rainy, two thumbs up!

  • Two successful locations…thank you Centennial Sports Arena & the National Sports Center! Say what you want, these facilities make this program work, both inside and out! Hope to continue for years to come!

  • Successful Trips to NEW Field Trip PartnersUrban Air Trampoline Park & UofMN Rec. Center Tour (AKA NSC) - Always seeking new Trips, Twin Cities!

  • And Interesting / Unusual Trips to others…

    • Target Field vs. the Boston Red Sox - It’s been a tough year for the Twins and our trip to Target Field in late June played consistent with that.

    • Blue Lips Bunker Beach - Kids stayed strong on an unusually chilly day at our favorite Water Park.

    • Taylor’s Falls Canoe Trips - High River! AKA Centennial rerouted their trip to the Lakes Beach in Blaine (success) do to unusually high water on the St. Croix for our Canoe Trip. AKA Blaine got lucky in mid August.

  • Incredible Partners and Supporters! Just Tremendous!

    • Captain Jack and his work with our AKA Archery weeks!

    • Healthy Bites - 4 summers of tasty meals!

    • JamHops! - Could not have asked for a better partnership…hard work, very professional and full of new activities for AKA! Thank you!

We are not perfect, no. But we do everything in our power to get there. AKA was founded on the basis of keeping kids active and well rounded through a variety of sports and recreation. Yet as I reflect on each and every day of this summer, and I’ve said this before, I am most proud of all the social connections that take place with these kids. Sport is a tremendous vehicle to get kids (and adults) together, to enjoy and to learn from each other’s company each and every minute they can. Issues arise and emotions at times go heavy. But what we need to see more clearly is that overall, sport (and free play) teaches kids how to adapt to one another, to learn life skills and ultimately, more so later in life, allows kids and people to hopefully forget about the stresses of the world. We see that every day at AKA… so thanks for another successful, extremely active summer!

And contrary to popular opinion and personal wishful thinking, I do actually do a ton of AKA work outside of the summer months (as well as my year round duties as the Youth Director of a large local soccer Club). AKA will be busy again in no time. Don’t you worry, we keep at it as there’s always room to improve and new ideas to expand.

I hope you are all off to a spectacular new school year. I wish you All the Best, CS

From within the Silence

From within the Silence ... some long overdue Spring Cleaning!

Don't read this until you've completed your day's Goal, planted a tree or completed a 2 mile hike... whichever comes first.  Happy Hump Day.

10 years ago, certainly before most people had smartphones and information was not a Siri away, I was taught, based on data marketing research, that Thursdays at 1:05pm was the best time to send out a newsletter or blog, if wanting to achieve maximum viewership.  I'm curious to know what data says these days but no matter, as my italicized sub heading to this new chapter for the #AKAWay blog offers, Don't read this until you are good and ready!

Hope you are all doing swimmingly, ready for 2018 to turn blue and green, not brown and 6 feet deep in white.  This month's blog is my Spring Cleaning edition...seeking to trim the fat as well as provide some insight on what works.  Don't hesitate to comment below!

Winter & Spring BOOKS finished/reread/in the process
Born to Run/Outliers/E-Myth Revisited/The Social Animal.  (Kudos to Herr Ripps, Smokey and Senior Vogel for their recommendations!)  Eager to hear what you are reading or what books the AKA world should read next!  Let me know in the comments below!

From Within the Silence
Not to get too deep or go too extreme into the subconscious mind discussion (though I cannot speak more highly of regular meditation!) but I want to acknowledge a trip I took this past Winter and the impact it made on what seemed like the longest Winter in years.  Here is what it did for me and can do for you! 

Cactus to Clouds Trail, Palm Springs, CA.  Forced to stop a couple thousand feet short but we'll get it sometime soon.  (Aerial Tram back down in blue)  Pick any spot on the line and pure bliss!

Cactus to Clouds Trail, Palm Springs, CA.  Forced to stop a couple thousand feet short but we'll get it sometime soon.  (Aerial Tram back down in blue)  Pick any spot on the line and pure bliss!

Only a 48 hour trip.  I packed my running shoes, a pair of shorts and my toothbrush, (Travelin' Light) and flew out to visit my brother Greg who was attending a conference in Palm Springs, California.

Tuesday - 5:30am MSP depart, landed/satellite work/beered/ate/slept
Wednesday - Up at 4:00am, started ascending (520 feet above sea level) the #CactustoClouds hike at 4:30am and reached close to 8,500/9,000 feet in 6.5 hours. Got turned around because of icy conditions so we did not make it to the San Jacinto Peak (10,834 feet). #NextyearGoals!
Thursday - 4:30am Palm Springs depart, back in MSP at 11:00am.
Okay...52 hours...NBD

From the Palm Springs Notes: 

To find a peace of mind, in the middle of a Minnesota Winter, book a 48 hour trip!  I'm not talking about a 7 day family trip to Orlando or Cancun, I'm talking you, yes, you workaholic/moms/dads/college students...we're talking 1 or 2 people max...booking a cheap flight to some mountain or out in nowhere National Park and get out there...for 48 hours...when the stress of MN grey and cold/Nuclear Media/Mass Shootings/Sports Hot & COLD/work piling up, yes, call me an #EscapeArtist/GRIND hits heavy...take a trip to the stillness and seek the pure silence and nothingness of the air, my God what it does for the mind (and body)!

You wouldn't believe how quiet it was on this trail.  You have no excuse to not do this for yourself..... all I can hope is that everyone tries this out annually, to some affect, and get to that place of no interruption. From within the Silence!

Hard work matters ... period .. deploy it on what matters to you .. parenting, work, your company your friends etc. Your Actions have to map to your ambitions. Kudos to @GaryVee , content #CRUSHIT master, who got me hooked!!

Motivation 2.018... Since Fall, I have thankfully found a go-to morning routine with motivational videos and speeches on YouTube.  A perfect alternative to my typical Jam band alarm clock or when in need of background work tunes/banter, I encourage you to try some out if you're looking for that extra boost.  Many repeat the same messages of "Just Do", "Surround yourself with positive people" and so forth and so forth but some really catch you at the right time and inspire you.  Try out @GaryVee youtube vids (right) or Jack Canfield's positive Law of Attraction. Certainly helped (earbuds) get me through all the shoveling this winter.  Highly suggested and I am always open to hear what videos you are motivated by!

earth day 2018.jpg

Earth Day... this place is Incredible. 
Please continue to do everything in your power to keep our Blue Planet intact and teach these kids of all that it is worth.  Thank you!

The Summer Staff, AKA Renegades I like to say, are in place!  There are 57 of us now in place, spread across 5 schools for the Spring AKA Afterschool programs and multiple sites for the 13th Annual AKA All Sports Summer.

AKA Tykes notice!  As we re-engage in AKA Tykes programming (ages 3-5), I want the AKA philosophy to be clear.  As found on the AKA Afterschool page ...

Our (AKA) youth programs generally start,only, by the time kids are through kindergarten as our philosophy in childhood development is that kids before the age of 6 should learn in unstructured, parent guided activities.  However, we understand the culture of today and the demand for more active programming for younger ages.  We are more than happy to assist and provide such All Sports programming yet we ask that you as parents take part in these AKA Tykes activities with your children.  We invite and strongly encourage you to participate in the entire class if you are interested and able.

I mean come on... how can you say No.  Have fun and keep it light...they're not Tykes for long!

I mean come on... how can you say No.  Have fun and keep it light...they're not Tykes for long!

The bottom line is this. 

Kids, (Humans!), have limited time in this world to discover life as worry free, agenda free and Free of Structure!  I highly encourage families to wait to enroll until they have completed kindergarten, however again, I understand the demand for active programming in today's fast moving society. 

We at AKASPORT are here to keep sports fun and combat the current stress of the Youth Sports culture.

And finally, in this Spring Cleaning edition...

"What is Success? 
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even on life has breathed easier because you have lived; 

That is to have succeeded"

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Find your passion and Commit your entire Life to a Dream!  And as my Ishayan Meditation teachers, Uma and Srikari encourage from within the silence, "Enjoy, explore, take nothing seriously.  It's all going to work out perfectly."

Thanks for stopping by. 
Now keeping getting after those Goals and keep those kids busy!


Football Season officially over... where to go from here?!

February 4 - Time to take down the Christmas Tree edition... Post Super Bowl Reaction!

Well there you have it, No more Football.  We have officially reached the end of the Holiday Season.  That's at least my sport-centric take on things. 

This Blog was intended to be posted a week ago but as anxious as you all were to read my Blog, uh cough uh, deep down I knew you could wait.  Heck, we just hosted one the coolest (literally) Super Bowls in history.  So much to do in the Twin Cities between downtown Minneapolis Nicollet Mall events and music, with the star studded media friendly (upgraded) Mall of Hysteria, even in downtown St. Paul with the Winter Carnival and events at the Xcel.  And though I did not get a Super Bowl ticket into the Purple Palace, I was fortunate to take in a lot of all the festivities.  Here's a quality statistical Super Bowl by the Numbers recap provided by Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.  Hats off to the SBLII Committee and to the thousands of volunteers and sponsors!  The North was certainly Bold last week...  Well done #Minnesota Proud!


So now we go!  Moving on, inspired by the local spectacle, what have we learned from these past 5 months of football?


Well unless you took a year off and lived on a remote island in the South Pacific, you'd know that this has been a trying year for football.  And I won't even attempt to get into the 'Take a Knee' platform used by players (and Presidents) to magnify the issues of inequality.  I tend to focus on the state of health of sport, and in this case football, as a spectator, a fan and as a promoter of active sports.  

Listen, I absolutely love football.  I, like most sports guys, truly don't know what I would do without it.  I most certainly devote my Sundays to the NFL over 5 months each year and my Monday moods have been known to be dictated by the Packer's result the day before.  That said, Football, no matter how far entrenched in negativity, thanks to the media, and the unmistakable safety concerns, cannot and will not go away!!  Let's better educate and correct the culture of football across the board.  Here are the issues we see most prevalent and here are some ways to fix and support America's game.

Growing concern of Concussions
Whether it's pop star sensation Justin Timberlake openly responding, pre Super Bowl, to say he wouldn't let his kids play tackle football, Brett Favre in 2014 (video below) steering people from playing altogether!, or your family pediatrician preaching to the chorus, we know that there is growing concern.  And that awareness and coverage is tremendous.  Rules are being changed each year at every level from youth through the pros, to make football more safe, namely by attempting to minimize the amount of times kids and adults get hit in the head.  We just need to be clear on what we want in sport, especially as we look over our kids, and steer them into making smart decisions.

rodgers injury.jpg

Growing concern for Football Injuries
We know that there remain risks in EVERY sport we choose as kids and as adults.  (if anyone has a new hamstring to lend out, email me :))  Ligaments tears, strains and sprains, broken bones and gashes that will keep you on your couch instead of going to Homecoming.  Football certainly takes the brunt of this conversation and for good 'intensive' reason.  But we love football... albeit Bigger, STRONGER, FASTER, so are the times. So let's figure it out and do football smarter! 
(#BanHelmetsandPads!...  There, I said it.)



"No other place where a young man is held to a higher standard"
Now I am not a football expert nor did I ever play organized football as a kid.  So take all of this for what its worth.

New York Times writer, Ken Belson, added a couple articles prior to the Super Bowl that I thought provoked some sense worthy understanding of Youth Football participation.  I think the most noteworthy is his piece,  True Believers Circle the Wagons and Insist that the Sport is Fine.


In Belson's piece he quotes the President of the Green Bay Packers, Mark Murphy, saying, "...it is a mistake to focus solely on the risks associated with football and not to focus on the tremendous benefits."

John Harbaugh and several other top tier coaches and player's have also been more vocal of the positive influence for football.  "I believe there’s practically no other place where a young man is held to a higher standard." ... "Football is hard. It’s tough. It demands discipline. It teaches obedience. It builds character", say Harbaugh.

I have a ton of close friends and acquaintances who I can guarantee would regard their High School and College football career as a tremendous reason for character and discipline in their lives and now they are successful business owners, teachers and leaders in communities across the Midwest.  

Where do we go from here?! 
The bottom line is we need to restore the safety and the culture around youth football and with that we restore the fun.

While concerning football safety and injury research is finding itself more and more on the front page of the paper and as State Legislators are addressing the issue by barring youth tackle football under the age of 12 years old, no one body has come up with a solid solution to keep participation in Football up and running (safe!). 

The NFL, while deflecting and addressing a wide variety of other issues, is getting closer to going full steam with youth Flag Football but truly, what's the hang up? 

Despite Flag Football getting the 'NOT COOL' label by its rough and tough fully padded peers, we need to fix this.  Let's hope that the NFL is on it and soon so that Flag Football or Football 7's (check out www.my7on7.com in the Twin Cities) will gain greater popularity in the Midwest and across the country in the coming years. 

If you think about it, there is quite a contradiction going on here.  Pro and College Football has become more and more aerial over the years where Quarterbacks are the superstars and the long pass is the preferred offensive attack.  So why not groom our kids by playing more technical, pass heavy play and steer further away from the thunder booming hits until kids get older?  I know its not that easy but would it hurt to try to get more pass heavy, technical play from our kids?

Always open to discussion and again, if anyone is interested in joining forces with AKASPORT to develop safer solution football leagues or programs for our kids to play, just shoot me a note.  In the meantime, as I always revert back to the way things used to be, have your kids round up the neighbor kids or school friends and go to a park or pick someone's backyard to play.  2 on 2 and 3 on 3 football is a ton of fun with a great deal of creativity and imagination! 

Thanks for reading,



Further Football for Thought...

Top 12 NFL players who wouldn't let their kids play football - 2016

What is a good age to start your child playing Football - Livestrong.com

Percentage and Statistics for Football players and serious injury - Livestrong.com

Goodbye 2017... Hello 2018... AKA Shine a Light edition!

Happy New Year Everybody... Below is a recap of AKASPORT 2017 and on to wishing you all a bright, healthy and fortuitous 2018! 


2017 Community Impact Recap
Active Kids Association of Sport (AKASPORT)

Thank you for supporting Active Kids Association of Sport this year!  We had another wonderful year of summer camps and are well into our 2017-2018 After School Programs.

Our intention this past year was to build and expand on our sports and games curriculum, maintain equipment and train our staff to make these programs educational, enriching and fun! Our goal was to increase the amount of activity youth in our communities achieve each day and encourage active living into adulthood.  We use sport instruction and games to encourage physical activity while building personal skills including leadership, teamwork, discipline and sportsmanship.

Results: Growth & Impact
This past year we were able to open a third summer camp location and reach 59 additional youth bringing our total impact to 373 individual campers ! This is a 16% increase over summer 2016 and we have seen this type of growth or more each year since 2004.  During camp we coached over 18 sports and introduced several new sports and games including gymnastics, dance, handball and track & field events.

We are in between our after school programs for the 2017-2018 school year and have already implemented programs in seven schools and are committed to twelve schools this winter and spring.  We are in constant contact with our school program coordinators to bring requested programs right to them.

AKASPORT would not be successful without our amazing staff and program partners. We are proud that we had 70% of our summer staff return for a second, third or even fourth summer with AKA! Some of our senior staff even interned in other areas of AKA and acted as mentors for some of our after school participants. We have the capacity to bring on even more youth for summer 2018 and cannot wait to extend our reach and see the impact we will make.

While we specialize in keeping kids active, we also want to impact our community in other ways. This year we organized our second Earth Day park clean up, sixth annual Community Appreciation fundraiser event which continues to grow to raise funds and awareness for active programming and we organized our second winter coat drive to support those in need.

Future Planning
As we move into 2018 we are focused on growing our existing programs by filling our new Centennial location to capacity.  Our biggest initiative is expanding our after school and seasonal programs where we know we have the most room to grow and the most kids in need of active and safe programs. We feel confident we will increase participation in both these programs through by the end of the year.

We have two new programs starting in 2018 - AKA Outdoors and AKA Tykes! The AKA Outdoors initiative has been a dream for years and we are ready to put it into action. We will be starting with AKA Archery in January 2018 with the plan to build a catalog of outdoor activity options for our communities. We have been successful keeping kids active through more traditional sports, now it’s time to get the whole family active outdoors!

The AKA Tykes program is a new program for our 3-6 year old age group to introduce our youngest athletes to new sports and games. The purpose behind the Tykes program is to engage kids and parents! with active free play while they build coordination and teamwork. Our goal is to help them develop a love of being physically active as they enter their school age years.

Our committed staff and our continued investment in leadership  is what makes AKASPORT successful and unique compared to other youth programs in the Twin Cities.  To achieve our goals of  growing programs we are focused on educating and empowering our staff through updated staff training and resources.  As our programs continue to expand, we are committed to keeping them consistent, effective and impactful to each family. We plan to bring back a majority of our staff for summer 2018.  We are also working to hire a Director to lead AKA After School. This position will focus solely on engaging more schools and students during the after school hours to help us increase our reach across the Twin Cities.

To further our impact, we will continue our successful community events including park clean ups, winter coat and used sports equipment and apparel drives and our Community Appreciation Event as well as introduce new active family fun!

Thank you!
We hope you will continue to support our mission of keeping kids well rounded through sport! With your support we will continue to reach even more youth and help them achieve a lifelong love of healthy living.

Active Kids Association of Sport (AKASPORT) - 2017 review
Renee Beaman & Chris Schulz


Let us keep close all of the positive memories that keep us smiling and seeking more.  Keep close those we have lost and let us to move forward with compassion and care for everyone out there... Keep active, keep inspired and help spread Peace to all!      ...All the Best, CS

Stepping into fragile territory...a review of The Fragile Generation

Stepping into fragile territory...
A review of The Fragile Generation by Lenore Skenazy & Jonathan Haidt

#RestoreResilience   #FreePlay  

TFG Link here: via Reason.com



Big thanks to ma boy, JT, for sharing my concerns and for being the first to bring this article to my attention

I have held onto this one for several weeks for a few reasons.  In the timely sense, this is the feature in the December issue of Reason Magazine.  Philosophically, because I am a bit sensitive to the reaction this may create as I never! firmly want to tell parents how to parent nor do I want to persuade them in a direction opposite of the norms to which they may be working well with their kids already.  But also because of the depths of the constant negative matter circling above and around the current affairs of bullying in schools, child neglect and abuse, and more recently, seemingly unavoidable - gun violence, mass shootings and sexual harassment cases to name a few.  You name it … things are not exactly all positive right now.

Restore Resilience
So let's take life back now and show our kids how to be stronger and more resilient for a more promising and positive tomorrow.  I had this actual article discussion with my ma and dad over a year ago and we clearly were looking for answers. 

Why are more kids not walking to school or riding bikes to the playground?!! (Apparently, Only 13 percent of them now walk to school.)

What happened to the days you can play in the backyard for hours without worry or play 2 on 2 basketball in the driveway until your fingers start to bleed?  Does anyone even play Kick the Can anymore, my God that was the life!

Why are sports so incredibly structured… from 2 years old and up now it seems!

This article is the first substantial take I have read on the subject. IN. MY. OPINION., in The Fragile Generation (TFG), Lenore Skenazy and Jonathon Haidt do an outstanding job of storytelling and providing fact driven lessons and research that I can only hope starts to catch on in the doctrines of modern day parenting and teaching (and coaching)!

Each section within TFG hits home.  Not just for me but for most, if not all the kids and families, I work with.  Their anecdotes are spot on; the 911 call on the boy chopping wood, swings and teeter-totters being banned, kids under 12 not allowed to go to library alone and my favorite being the (adult) couple who called the police to ultimately come over and set a mouse trap for the mouse in their apartment.  For crying out loud, the authors cite that the Consumer Product Safety Commission even warns parks of "tripping hazards, like…tree stumps and rocks," a fact unearthed (so to speak) by Philip Howard, author of 2010's Life Without Lawyers.

Fear & Structure
Skenazy (@FreeRangeKids) & Haidt (@JonHaidt) are not afraid to squash the fear of rising preds and perps in the world either.  If you look further into this, today, your kids (and adults) are safer today than ever since 1963.  "While Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker writes in 2011's The Better Angels of Our Nature that life in most countries is safer today than at any time in human history, the press keeps pushing paranoia. This makes stepping back feel doubly risky: There's the fear of child kidnappers and the fear of Child Protective Services."

When it comes to the Youth Sports Industry and the astronomical amount of time and dollars spent on structured sports, there must also be a way of bringing back how things use to be.  At least, this is one of my personal agendas to fix.
#FamilyFirst   #6:00Supper  #BackyardPickupGames   #UnplugForADay

After school, kids no longer come home with a latchkey and roam the neighborhood. Instead, they’re locked into organized, supervised activities. Youth sports are a $15 billion business that has grown by 55 percent since just 2010. Children as young as third grade are joining traveling teams—which means their parents spend a lot of time in the car, too. Or they’re at tutoring. Or they’re at music lessons. And if all else fails, they are in their rooms, online.

To me, this article has it all!

If you are more into watching video than reading the TFG article, the YouTube within, mostly the interview with author and "The World's Worst Mom", Lenore Skenazy, is inside. (Most of you know, I am not a parent, though I think reading and watching this video will serve you well.)

Free Play
At AKASPORT, we push Free Play more than anything.  If you ask the kids, "What is your favorite part of the day", without question, the 99% answer is FREE PLAY, which we designate as at least 4.5 hours of the 11 hour AKA summer camp day experience.  And in the AKA after school programs, we design this Free Play mentality around creating a safe haven of sports and fitness at the schools that focuses on 60 minutes of play, with minimal instruction but a great deal of multi-sport variety, togetherness and young adult mentorship and coaching.  And in the newly launched AKA Outdoors division, the vision is to get more kids outdoors and to take part in more unique, mind opening activities to appreciate more of the natural aspects of good living.

Professor and research contributor, Peter Gray writes in 2013’s Free to Learn, “Free play is the means by which children learn to make friends, overcome their fears, solve their own problems and generally take control of their own lives.”  … “Nothing we do, no amount of toys we buy or 'quality time' or special training we give our children, can compensate for the freedom we take away. The things that children learn through their own initiatives, in free play, cannot be taught in other ways.”

Free play has little in common with the “play” we give children today. In organized activities, adults run the show. It’s only when the grown-ups aren’t around that the kids get to take over. Play is training for adulthood.

Time for Parents and Leaders to Step UP ... Open to Discussion

The story of late that has taken off like wildfire is of course the sexual abuse scandals that headline the news seemingly every day.  I cannot even begin to imagine how kids are interpreting this or if and how you parents and teachers are discussing why this matters to your kids.  But this to me is a perfect example of an opportunity to steer kids away from the negative darkness and show them the positive light. 

I can only hope that parents are speaking with their kids consistently about issues and how to be a better person and citizen than the one that is in the news.  Seize that opportunity to show these kids the way.  I never forget mom's compassion filled talks to me such as the day I walked home from school in 1st grade and some random kid painted a large fresh strip of paint down the back of my winter jacket or the time she cooled me down after I wanted to fight the neighbor friend after a long walk home in 4th grade.  Were those big deals, not really at all!  I survived and we moved on and those great memory lessons still make an impression on me today.  Or the first bike ride mom and dad guided me on to the tennis courts (on Irish Road...never forget!) so that I knew where and how I was to go.  That set the course...they showed me the way and then trusted me to do it on my own...safe, secure and independent.  Those simple "rehearsal" treks set the path for me to go a long, long way and I am forever grateful. 


As this article, The Fragile Generation, and topic is deep and clearly hits home in today’s turbulent society, I encourage you all to chime in and speak about what you are doing with your kids or how your schools may or may not be addressing these issues.  No, it is not ideal for every kid, based on their neighborhood or proximity to friends and parks, to walk or bike to school nor is it perfectly convenient for them to play with close neighbors and friends if they don't have them.  But there are always ways we adults can support the habits of kids without structured sports, tablets or look the other way neglect.  Take action and let us know!

Thank you for reading and... Happy December!


Hustlin' Down a Dream

The leaves seen through my window pane
Remind me that it's time to move my life again
November sun is felt by none
A chilly breeze has blown my thoughts to what's to come

... JB & Mikey

Sometimes you've just got to put it out there...  Go Get it People!
(bump #1 to @CaseyNeistat, I borrowed your sign, big thanks!)

Before mentioning that Registration is Now Open for 2018 AKA Summer Camps, I just wanted to check in and show everyone that I am alive and well.  (Sorry for the photo above...tip toeing towards a future in more appealing sound-tracked video blogging.)  Fully recovered from my most hectic (so many synonyms, which one to choose) AKA and coaching year to date, I'm back.  Now we go. 

In this, recovery period, and yes, those who know me know that that is my sole mission for September and October (that and planning and coaching and wishing my QB still had his collarbone in tact), I have honed in on motivation speakers, getting after life and one word, Hustle.  (Hat tip #2 to @garyvee)

We hear it all the time but I'm somewhat losing faith in, or more subtley, losing touch with those of us, especially in the Midwest, who actually live to the Hustle.  "Life's short", "Chase your Dreams", "Don't Stop get it get it" and on and on but how many of you and to what degree are you all actually pursuing this?  If so, reach me anytime, please.....looking to start a new club of unstoppable proportions.  @topherschulzmn

Anyways...November here we are.  Let's go.  Since 2012, November 1 has marked the start of a new cycle for AKA programming which registration for the following year programs going live.  We look forward to serving hundreds of families in 2018 and what I will tell you is that what is about to happen with AKA might actually get your attention.  We're going places with better programming, better coaching, more programs, more schools and more personal attention to the kids, to the people, to the quality of life through sportTrust me. 

Before I leave you to all get after it today... a special thanks to the Coon Rapids Ice Center and all their staff for three years of operations at your beautiful facility.  It has been a pleasure operating out of your space...Thank you!

Keep me updated on what you are all doing to stay active this fall and winter.  More programs and ideas coming soon.  Thanks for reading.... all the best, CS

AKA Chris