Families spend their summer vacations in a variety of ways. For some, it’s traveling to the same traditional spot every year either alone, with extended family, or joining a close group of friends.
For others, it’s finding a new destination each year; An island in the Caribbean, or across that other body of water known as “The Pond.”
There are positives and negatives to both strategies. But regardless of where a family’s “happy place” is each year, as our children get older we realize that the length and pockets of time for our summer vacation dwindle as we try to balance travel sports, camps, and other youth sports opportunities.
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Once a child reaches high school, it becomes even more difficult.
The second half of August is no longer an option to be out of town if your child plays high school football or any other fall sport. Preseason practices typically begin in the middle of the month and training is mandatory. Other than injury or illness, players are expected to be there.
In July, many high school teams participate in summer leagues and workouts that might not be mandatory, but it’s pretty much assumed by coaching staffs that if you want to play varsity the following year, you’ll be at most of them.
I’m not suggesting you can’t go on vacation once you have a child in high school. But, if you are planning one that is longer than a week – a cross-country drive, or trip to Europe, for instance – it might be a good idea to check that off your bucket list before your oldest becomes a rising freshman.
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There’s nothing wrong with missing a week of workouts or a summer league game or two, but many coaches frown on skipping more than that, especially if it’s consecutive. Taking a week off at the end of June to head to the beach and then another one at the end of July for a second excursion is much more acceptable than missing the first three weeks of July for a trip abroad. That’s a lot of time away from physical conditioning and valuable minutes missed working on team chemistry.
Family vacations are important and I’m a big proponent that youth sports should not take precedence over them. However, once a child becomes a high school player, informal practices and summer league games must be considered when making vacation plans; and to reiterate, official preseason practices can’t be missed.
Like it or not, it’s the world we live in. Keep it in mind as you plan your upcoming vacations to be sure you don’t miss the chance to see an experience through your kids’ “childhood” eyes.
Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years with perspectives as a parent, coach and board member. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.