Build Character, Get Fit and Have Fun
By Rachel Bosworth
For anyone that has gone to camp, it is remembered as the place where summertime friendships were forged and a time of seemingly endless hours spent outdoors. It is these experiences that were shared between a local kid from Amagansett and private school city boy that led them to a lifelong friendship and founding their own camp.
Mark Crandall and Eric Scoppetta are the founders and camp directors at East Hampton Sports Camp at Sportime in Amagansett. Having met at Boys Club during their formative years, the duo thought of opening their own sports camp when their own beloved summer stomping grounds closed its doors after 40 years. “We had amazing times there,” shares Mr. Crandall. “We played sports in the morning and went to the beach in the afternoon. At 18 we thought we could start a camp, and at 22 we rented a community space and started a five-kid camp.”
By the end of the first summer at the East Hampton Neighborhood House, there were 25 kids attending the camp. Now in their 27th year and a much larger group of campers, East Hampton Sports Camp is looking forward to its seventh summer at Sportime. “We brought our whole philosophy, counselors, and kids to Sportime, and get to utilize a beautiful facility,” Mr. Crandall says of the multisport arena and 23-acre property.
Offering a large variety of sports and activities, including swimming lessons, tennis, basketball, tag, and arts and crafts, the camp offers week-long programs throughout the summer. Both Mr. Crandall and Mr. Scoppetta are multi-sport athletes, and aim to offer an array of options that can be tailored to meet the needs and wants of campers. With an overarching theme of inclusion, the idea is not to make the best athletes, but great people.
“We have a strict teasing policy,” Mr. Crandall explains. “We always start the day with Circle Time to set the tone for the day. We introduce new people, tell a few jokes, and remind everyone to respect each other’s space. We don’t pop anyone’s bubble; we get them to find better ways to respect each other.” Mr. Crandall also shares that circle time ends with him attempting a half-court hook shot, which if made, he says it will be a great day.
Though dodgeball is a controversial sport, Mr. Crandall says the staple game is one counselors and kids can play together, and offers profound character building exercises. “Who you are on the court is who you are off the court, it’s up to you to be honest in the game,” Mr. Crandall says of the sport where a Swedish-made, softer dodgeball is used and headshots don’t count. “Sometimes you’re going to win and sometimes you’re going to lose. It helps kids to process all of those emotions in the best way and how to navigate those same emotions you will experience throughout life.”
A typical day at camp also includes a group tennis lesson, a field sport such as soccer or capture the flag, snack time and lunch, time in the indoor arena for more sports, and an afternoon elective. With kids specializing in certain sports earlier and earlier, they can focus on an activity that best suits their needs. For something a little different, kids can elect to participate in farming with Amber Waves Farm. “Their spot [in Amagansett] is pretty awesome,” says Mr. Crandall. “We have a little organic garden at camp as well that Amber Waves Farm helps us to plant.”
Many of the counselors at East Hampton Sports Camp were once campers themselves, an experience that lends itself to an understanding of the camp’s philosophy. Pros from the John McEnroe Tennis Academy and Brazil’s Pelé Soccer Camp will enhance the sports experience for campers this summer. They will also offer after-camp trips with older kids, including Mets Camp Day, fishing trips, and skateboard building at Grain Surfboards. The after-camp activities will also be available to kids that can’t join the regular summer camp.
Sessions are one week long, and begin Monday, June 19, with programs for preschoolers ages three to five and older campers six to 13. Campers can opt to join programs for one week to the whole summer. “We spend all year to prepare and get ready,” Mr. Crandall shares. “We’re forging some pretty amazing friendships between not just campers, but counselors too.”
East Hampton Sports Camp at Sportime is located at 320 Abrahams Path in Amagansett. For more information, visit sportimeny.com or call (631) 267-2267.