Camp aims to get kids back outside playing multiple sports — before specializing in one
By Mark Wright:
Steve Boyle has his running partner, Rob Peterson, to thank for his introduction to Gaston Day School’s athletic director Casey Field — a meeting that would be the catalyst to bringing 2-4-1 Sports to the school this summer.
As Program Director and Founder of 2-4-1 Sports, the program’s singular objective is to get kids outside — trying as many sports as possible, before specializing in one.
Boyle, who launched the program with his wife, Kerry, in 2008 in Hartford, CT, had been looking to expand the program’s footprint into the South.
Field, meanwhile, had been looking for summer camp offerings that met the school’s goals.
“I was introduced to [Steve and Kerry] by a mutual friend who thought we shared similar philosophies about youth sports,” explains Field, who has been Gaston Day’s AD since 2010. “After one Zoom call, I knew that these were people I wanted to work with because we had the same set of values and beliefs.”
As COVID protocol varies from state to state, 2-4-1 Sports been involved in conversations with Connecticut state officials on how to safely get kids back to some normal activities, even liaising with programs in the UK, Australia and India.
That was a huge factor for Field, and the school’s decision to bring 2-4-1 Sports to Gaston Day this summer (June 13-17).
“So far, the Gaston Day and surrounding communities have been very receptive to this new camp offering,” Field said, who added that registration is currently open. “I think knowing that days will be full of activity and that this is a nationally recognized program that has had success elsewhere gets families interested pretty quickly.”
In addition, Boyle and his team hosted webinars for several different states and countries to brainstorm ways to mitigate risks associated with holding a camp during the pandemic, discussing everything from how to feed campers to best practices for bathroom breaks.
As former collegiate athletes themselves (Steve played basketball at Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y. and (Kerry) played varsity lacrosse and field hockey at Bucknell), the Boyles understand better than most what specializing on a single sport — too early — can do for young athletes.
So named after its tagline “Life’s 2 Short 4 Just 1 Sport”, 2-4-1 Sports was recognized by the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. as one of eight model programs in the United States for its approach to anti-specialization in youth sports.
“We have come to realize that kids are kids no matter where they are located or where they come from,” explained Steve. “Before any specialization happens, it all starts with free play first — and that’s our core offering.”
Even though parents are mindful of new safety dynamics that COVID 19 brings, enrollment numbers say they’re ready to venture out. “So far this year, we are up over 400 percent in enrollment compared to this time last year,” explained Kerry, who added that 2-4-1 will offer camps in other markets this summer, including Lafayette, CO, New Westminster, British Columbia and Philadelphia, PA.
“It is clear that families are excited to get back to some semblance of normalcy and attending quality camps is one way to do that,” she added.
Added Field: “We’re encouraged that things are taking a turn for the better as it relates to COVID, and that kids feel comfortable to get out and be kids again,” explained Field. “Ultimately that’s what we’re looking to offer, and if we can achieve that objective with 2-4-1 Sports, then everybody wins.”
While written by Mark Wright, this article is being submitted by Stephen Boyle on his behalf.
About Steve Boyle
Steve is the Executive Director of 2-4-1 CARE, Inc and Co-Founder/Director of 2-4-1 Sports -- a signature program of 2-4-1 CARE-- whose flagship program is held at the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Conn. but now has locations throughout the United States and Canada. 2-4-1 was recognized by the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC as one of eight model programs in the United States for its approach to anti-specialization in youth sports. This led Steve to form the National Association of Physical Literacy – of which he is now Advisory Board Chair. Steve is also a founding member of the Quality Coaching Collective – an international group of activators around sport, movement and mindfulness. Lastly, through his role at CCG, Steve was the two-year Global Lead on Physical Literacy and Athletics for Whittle School & Studios (2018-20), which currently has campuses in Shenzhen, China and Washington, DC.