5 Team Experiences That Kids Can Enjoy Without Stepping Foot In A Locker Room
I remember the sinking feeling that started in my stomach when my friends — all parents — started raving about the wonderful benefits of team sports for kids. This was an athletic bunch, having played varsity high school and university sports, and they were extolling the virtues of team sports in developing everything from time management skills to the unshakeable bonds formed between teammates.
We live in a hockey town and my son has zero interest in the game.
I wasn’t an outsider in the conversation, having dabbled in team sports myself, although never as a superstar. Never would I describe my experiences as life changing or overwhelmingly positive — but they were kind of fun and mostly fine. Now, however, my sense of unease had to do with the fact that my kids are not sporty. For them, team sports have started to take on an aspect of work and worry, as it becomes obvious where they fall in terms of skill level (very near the bottom). For the truly sporty, it’s hard to realize that for those who aren’t gifted in that field, athletics can equal anxiety and fear of not performing well, leading to frustration, worry and fears over losing the respect of their friends.
My kids, and other kids like them, are never going to make the grade to play on a rep team — nor do they particularly want to. We live in a hockey town and my son has zero interest in the game. Does this mean that the camaraderie of team bonding, travel and lifelong friendships is off limits to him? Nope, nope, nope, I say.
In looking for other ways for my kids to obtain this much-touted experience, I realized that teams exist all around us. They might not all involve winning games or racking up points, but the common thread is working toward a shared goal. I would argue that letting kids find their niche and do something that they love is going to make them happier than dreading an anxiety-filled sports match during which they know that they’re not the best on the field and feel like they’re not good enough.
So here are some team experiences that kids can enjoy without setting foot in a locker room.
Choir Or Band
Musical groups are teams, too! They practice together, grow close in friendships and sometimes even travel as well. My daughter’s performance choir combines the hard work of a team sport with the PG-rated hilarity of Pitch Perfect. She works hard, tries new things, and is part of a wonderful team of kids. They travel to different community events and look out for one another. If there isn’t a choir or band in your area, consider putting out the feelers on Facebook or via the school to set one up.
Kiddos might love an environmental club in which the team plans events, campaigns and other ways to create change. That could mean a bake sale to help raise funds to save a wildlife species, or planting trees with a local conservation authority. These activities will certainly make sure great camaraderie with the bonus of learning about environmental responsibility. Tree planting, a hike in the woods, and hot chocolate made over a roaring fire is a great way to come together.
If you’ve ever been part of putting on a play or any kind of theatrical production, you’ll know that while there may be lead roles, this is certainly a group effort. From set and costume design to understudies and directors, everyone can play an important role in working hard for the big finish — the performance itself! It’s also really great for teaching kids how to work towards a deadline, a much-needed life skill. And the sense of accomplishment after the curtain falls on the last show will have them beaming with pride. Just observing the energy and companionship at a wrap party is like a mini Super Bowl win.
More and more schools are offering a LEGO Robotics club, which is a fun and creative way to foster STEM learning. The team aspect is apparent as the kiddos work together to learn and create, and there is usually a LEGO Robotics competition where the teams pit their creations against others. Perfect for fans of MakerSpace and budding engineers, this club is proof that not all teams wear uniforms (although we would certainly be all over a creatively designed LEGO Robotics team t-shirt, come to think of it).
Some kids just want to paint, create, work on Manga/Anime or play with clay. And while art may seem like a solitary activity, art club can bring out a sense of team by having the group plan themes for art shows, work together on the logistics, and then support each other through the development of the pieces. Another option is to host an ‘art battle’, in which artists face off against each other to create a piece or artwork on a particular theme in a given time. Judges then declare a winner. The art club could form the team for such a battle and compete against other clubs or schools.
Maybe it’s karate, improv club, or student council. There are so many opportunities to let our kids shine, even if it’s not on the sports field. Look around you for clubs or groups or start your own and watch the passion unfold.