During the end of the school year and at the beginning of June, we hear a lot about the Day of Champions Sports Camp, which is sponsored by Citizen Potawatomi Nation. This year was number 13 for the day camp, and was the second year for the sport of softball. I wrote about the camp for children in grades one through eight in my column a few years ago. Any reference by me of the camp is to flaunt the benefits that the students derive from the two-day sessions. What I have not done in the past is acknowledge the efforts of those who are instrumental behind the scenes in growing the camp from 13 years ago to what we have today. I have also not conveyed to our people how many letters, telephone calls and emails are sent to praise Citizen Potawatomi Nation for sponsoring the camp.
The Day of Champions Sports Camp includes much more than the presentation of football and softball skills. That portion of the camp along with the hard work of implementation and practice is a valuable part of the camp. But the academic curriculum sets this camp aside from other skill camps. The curriculum includes a wide variety of principles, including discipline, respect, trust and work ethic. There are lessons on mental preparation and interpersonal skills. There also is a session on bullying. Who would ever believe that part of the curriculum of a sports camp includes teaching students how to make someone stop bullying? This is one more reason, among dozens, that the Day of Champions is indeed an award-winning camp for our young people.
CPN is not the first area location for the camp. Shawnee, Bethel and Tecumseh football fields and/or practice fields have been used in the past. The CPN softball fields are the present location. The tribe has agreed to host next year’s two-day camp, and I personally hope it is Pottawatomie County’s permanent location for the Day of Champions Sports Camp. Of course, there are other players in this decision including officials for the camp and officials for our tribe.
Speaking of officials, several of CPN’s legislators have become involved with the camp. That makes Ken Heupel, President and CEO of the organization, very pleased. I marvel at the compliments that Mr. Heupel bestows on the facilities and the employees of the tribe. He has also grown fond of our legislators. He sees the CPN as a successful tribal nation that cares for their children and other tribal members. He also recognizes that the tribal leaders are visibly instrumental in the progress of CPN. Each year, Mr. Heupel, Sarah Lawrence and I have a meeting to discuss the summer camp. Heupel is a stickler for detail, striving for continual improvement akin to a quality control specialist.
The Day of Champions must also have a supreme supporter at our facilities. The camp needs a perfect contact specialist — one whose heart is in the right place for children’s welfare, a person with tireless energy and a well-rounded athlete who loves to cook. That person is Sarah Lawrence, personal assistant and assistant chief operating officer of CPN Wellness Center. Her director is Leslie Cooper. We must give a hearty “thank you” to Leslie for allowing Sarah the opportunity to work with the Day of Champions Sports Camp. Anytime you see one of our employees going beyond the call of duty, you can be sure that there is a team effort in the background.
The picture that accompanies this article depicts two worker bees despite the fact that they are very important people in their respective workplaces. I like the term “worker bee.” It is how the Day of Champions Sports Camp evolved. It takes a lot of worker bees to produce true champions!
(Black Bird Woman)