Former Olympian, Dick Packer (1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics), is preparing for his 34th season of sharing his great love and knowledge of the game of soccer to another summer of young campers. And, what a summer it is shaping up to be with the 2012 Olympics getting ready to open in London in July. An outside right, Packer was one of 16 players on the U.S. Summer Olympics team, and the U.S. Armed Forces European Soccer team. He was a two-time First Team All-American at Penn State and played more than 10 seasons in the American soccer League. Packer was named to the 1954 and 1955 first team All American team. Despite playing only three seasons and 24 games, he scored 53 goals, a school record that stood until broken by Stuart Reid in 1995.
However, at Packer Soccer Camp, which were organized in 1978 as the world's favorite sport grew in popularity, it is more than just playing the sport. It is about having fun, exercising, learning to share, listening and knowing what it is like to be a team player.
The two-week program for boys and girls ages 5 to 11 years is a half-day program. The Grasshopper program is for 3- and 4-year-olds and is designed to "make learning the wonderful sport of soccer fun and to build confidence through success," said Packer, a Rowayton resident, and the camp’s director.
As a result, the Packer Camps provide continuous individual attention, plenty of group exercise and frequent inter-squad scrimmages. Packer supervises every camp with a staff of outstanding coaches and is on the field everyday helping campers of every age and ability learn to play and love the game of soccer. It is one of the reasons the program has been singled out and described in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, on TV and in newspapers. It is a program unlike any other, and campers return week after week, year after year. "We stress skill building — not winning — thus, there is no opportunity to fail," said Packer. “After all," said Packer, "soccer should be as much fun to learn as it is to play. And the interest among the kids is still strong today, and it seems to be growing. It’s really a great sport for young children.
The first week of camp this summer will be held at Rowayton Elementary School, June 25 to 29. The second session is Aug. 6 to 10 and will be held at Middlesex Middle School in Darien. Boys and girls ages 5 to 11 are offered a 9 a.m. to noon experience, while the Grasshoppers enjoy one hour of fun from 10 to 11 a.m.
"We call what we do at our Camps 'Kicks for the Fun of It,'" said Packer. "The kids simply call it fantastic, because they learn in an atmosphere of fun and friends. Our staff members are carefully selected, and many are former campers now involved in collegiate soccer."
"We think parents agree that healthy competition is good for growing boys and girls," said Packer. "We make sure - win or lose - our campers realize their full potential of ability, exercise and fun."
As in the past, a portion of the summer's proceeds will be donated to Haiti Lumiere de Demain (HLD), a nonprofit organization that provides textbooks and solar-flashlights to the children of Haiti. Louis Elneus, the founder and director of the organization, began coaching at the Packer Soccer Camp more than 15 years ago.
"I noticed his love for his country and a strong desire to make a better life for people on the island," said Dick Packer. "Louis realized that the best way to make change was through education, and so he founded HLD. One hundred percent of donations go toward books and flashlights to the kids on the island of La Gonave, located off the west coast of Haiti. With no electricity on the island, the only way for them to read is by solar-powered light.”
"Louis’ passion is soccer and his commitment to children everywhere is to live and grow in an environment that cares for them," said Packer. "I know that the money is being spent properly. I know exactly where the funds are going and how they are being used."
For more information on Packer Soccer Camps or to register for the June or August sessions, call Coach Packer at 203-866-4830 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration is currently in progress, and based on the number of players already signed up, we are off to a great start.