EDITORIAL: 'Helicopter parents' and their kids have a lot to learn from Windsor camp

York Dispatch Editorial Board
  • Red Lion High coach Kevin Lawrence runs Windsor's Summer Sandlot Camp.
  • The camp is largely run by the kids, with limited involvement by the adults.
  • The kids are encouraged to take on responsibility and solve their own issues.

They’re called “helicopter parents” for a reason.

They constantly hover over their children’s lives like a helicopter.

They’re there to make sure their children never fall.

They’re there to make sure their children never go unprotected.

They’re there to make sure their children never suffer unfair treatment.

The parents are acting out of love, of course, but in the process, they’re also denying their children some desperately-needed life lessons.

Children who never fall also never learn to get up.

Children who are constantly protected also never learn to be self-reliant.

Children who are shielded from unfairness also never learn that life is inherently unfair.

As a result, when those children enter the real world, they’re woefully unprepared for real life.

Connor Lawrence, right, coaches his younger brother, Cooper Lawrence, before his at-bat at Windsor's Summer Sandlot Camp.

Refreshing change: That’s why we’d like to applaud Windsor's Summer Sandlot Camp. The camp operated by Red Lion High School baseball coach Kevin Lawrence offers a refreshing change of pace. It’s a baseball camp, yes, but baseball is just the vehicle that Lawrence uses to teach much more important virtues.  

Windsor camp takes different approach, teaching kids self-reliance, responsibility

The camp, for the most part, is run by the kids, with limited involvement by the adults. The older kids coach the younger kids. The older players set the lineup order, determine players' positions and keep score of the game. The coaches' responsibility is to pitch and help determine close plays at home plate.

The youngsters are encouraged to take on responsibility and solve any issues that arise for themselves.

“Every problem comes with an adult who can provide a solution,” Lawrence said. “What our young people are capable of is far more than we are giving them credit for. We are so eager as adults to be the fixers and to plow their way to make sure that everything is easy for them. They’ll do just fine, and often better than we could, on their own.”

Lawrence is spot on with his comments.

Connor Lawrence, left, coaches third base as his younger brother, Cooper Lawrence, attempts to score a run during Windsor's Summer Sandlot Camp.

Changing world: Decades ago, in a “Leave it to Beaver” world, kids had precious few organized, adult-run activities. Instead, they were mostly left to fend for themselves and create their own endeavors. They learned to organize, negotiate, argue and compromise.

There were bumps in the road, of course. Sometimes the games would end in unsolved disputes when a kid “would take his ball and go home.”

That, too, was a learning experience

Over the years, however, as the world became a more dangerous place, parents decided that their children needed to be better protected. That’s completely understandable. Protecting your children is the No. 1 job of every parent.

So, not surprisingly, the lives of most children became more regimented, more supervised and more parent-driven.

In the process, however, kids were deprived of a vital part of growing up.

Red Lion baseball coach Kevin Lawrence discusses with the younger group of players his high-ace philosophy on the field at Windor's Summer Sandlot Camp.

Creating "elite adults:" Lawrence is trying to change that. His hope is that his camp allows the players to take the skills they learned while having fun on the field and implement them into their lives as they grow up.

“We have to continue to make a very conscious effort to tell our young people, ‘Here are the great things of which you’re capable, now go figure out how to do it,’” Lawrence said. “We’re hoping we develop elite young people that turn into elite adults.”

Creating “elite adults” is the goal of every parent.

At least by today’s standards, the Windsor camp is taking a different approach toward reaching that goal.

Essentially, however, it’s simply an old approach in a new world.

Learning tool for parents, too: The camp should serve as a learning tool for parents and adult supervisors, too.

Hopefully, they’ll realize that they don’t have to hover over our kids quite so much.

In the long run, it will help produce more self-reliant and confident adults.