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Sports camps supervisor hones his skills

Lucas Matheson has been working with the Queen’s summer sports camps for the past three years and is currently the camps supervisor. (University Communications)

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor

Sometimes there's just no denying what you are good at.

For Lucas Matheson (Artsci’14, Ed'15) he has come to accept that, well, he's good with kids. And for that, many parents around Queen's and Kingston are grateful.

Mr. Matheson is the supervisor of the summer sports camp program at Queen’s and has worked his way up over the past three years from counsellor to assistant supervisor to the top spot.

Each day he’s responsible for the goings-on at the camps, as well as the young charges who have arrived to hone basic physical skills but also to just have fun. It’s a job that lines up well with his education as well as his future plans.

Mr. Matheson graduated from the physical and health education program this spring and will be be pursuing a Bachelor of Education here at Queen’s in the fall.

“There was no plan of becoming a teacher before working here. It planted the idea that being around kids is something that I am good at and really have a passion for as a career. Being in the phys-ed program, people always assumed ‘Oh. You’re going to be a gym teacher,’” he says. “I guess out of spite I would always say ‘No, I’m not going to be a phys-ed teacher, just because you said so, that was your first assumption.’ But working at the camp it really made me realize that I am good at this. I have the patience, I have the empathy to be able to relate to the kids, because I was a camper before. It really showed me, hey, I could do this as a career. I really enjoy my day, every day here.”

On a busy day at the Athletics and Recreation Centre, the gym is filled with the sounds of bouncing balls, whistles as well as squeals and laughter. It’s clear that Mr. Matheson is in his element.
His duties range from scheduling and making sure the counsellors are comfortable and doing their jobs correctly, to dealing with parents on any issues, including assuring them that their kids are safe. He also visits the camps and spends some time with the kids.

“It’s nice always saying hello to a little eight-year-old around each corner. That puts a smile on my face every day,” he says.

The summer sports program provides two main camps – divided by age groups: 5-7 and 8-13 – that teach kids the active fundamentals. By introducing them to a range of sports and activities, the kids learn fundamental motor skills as well as lateral movements, spatial awareness and the proper way to catch and throw. In the older group they hone these skills further.

He also oversees the specialty camps – such as football, soccer, volleyball, even fencing – that are run through the varsity sports program. Some of the top competitive athletes at Queen’s are the instructors at the camps while counselors, who are more used to the intricacies of youth camps, act as liaisons with the kids and their parents.

The camps have been running for 25 years and this year have drawn approximately 1,500 kids.

New to the program this year is incorporating the Canadian Sport for Life model that promotes learning the fundamentals at an early age. As a result the sports camps program has adapted to get the kids to learn these skills through fun games. Another area of development, Mr. Matheson points out, is basic social interaction as many of the camp attendees return each summer and meet with friends they haven’t seen over the school year.

While he enjoys the job immensely, responsibilities and all, Mr. Matheson also knows that he is also learning his own fundamentals that will form the foundation of his future studies and, hopefully, career as an elementary school teacher.

“It’s been the perfect job to have considering it actually has an effect towards my career,” he says. “Putting it on a resume as a counsellor and supervisor looks really good trying to apply not only for teachers college and getting into teachers college but now moving forward after that, applying to school boards, showing that I’ve been able to move up all the way from a counsellor to supervisor. Working at a camp looks pretty good and keeps me pretty confident moving forward.”