We’ve got two camps down in our summer schedule, and two camps to go. The next one starts on Monday and we’re getting excited! This one will be held at Westbury Christian School in southwest Houston and is open to all kids from grades 3-12. A summer camp is a great way to experience fencing for the first time. Kids learn the basic skills they need to start quickly and have a chance to apply those skills immediately. If you have a child (or are a child) who’s interested in starting this fun, fast-paced sport, camp is the perfect way to jump-start your fencing career.
So what can you expect at fencing camp? We like to change up the format a little based on the ages, abilities and interests of the kids in attendance, but we have an outline we follow.
Each day starts with some fun games to warm up: sometimes simple games, like relay races; sometimes more interesting games like ultimate Frisbee or a dodgeball-style game called Zombie Tag. The goal of these games is to get kids moving and focused. Next, we move to conditioning – activities that increase the fencer’s coordination, strength, and speed. Then it’s time for footwork. On the first day, we teach campers the core building blocks of fencing footwork: the advance, the retreat, and the lunge. On the following days, we use these steps to create more complicated footwork patterns. We teach students to vary the size and speed of their steps, and tricks that will help them disguise their movement.
Once warmed up and ready to go, we help the kids suit up. New fencers are provided with the basic safety gear: chest protector, underarm protector, jacket, glove, and mask. Then, the campers get the one thing they’ve been wanting to play with since they first found out about fencing camp: the sword. Our beginner camps teach foil fencing, because the foil is lightweight (making it good for smaller fencers) and teaches skills that they can later translate into the other weapons.
We develop tactically over the course of the camp, day one focuses on simple attacks and the use of distance in setting up and defending them – it’s important to learn to use your feet to get you out of the trouble they got you into. Day 2 adds defense with the blade – the parry and riposte – and other blade actions. The rest of the week is about how to prepare these actions to make them more effective and some different variations on them.
On the last day, we hold a tournament so the kids can put their skills to the test. We follow a standard USA Fencing format for the tournament: a pool, where each participant fences every other participant in a five-point bout; and a direct elimination tableau using the rankings from the pool. The fencers demonstrate how much they’ve learned during the week and get a taste for fencing competition. We also invite parents to observe the tournament, which provides for great photo ops and helps the parents understand what their kids have been learning all week.
Over the week, campers develop the basics of fencing footwork, bladework and tactics. They experience a variety of different drills and games to implement these techniques. And they fence in a tournament with the other campers. In all, campers get a great fencing experience condensed into one week.
Want to join the fun?
Westbury Camp: July 20-24, 1-4pm, $145 Westbury Christian School, 10420 Hillcroft St, Houston, TX 77096 Sign up
Bellaire Camp: August 3-7, 1-5pm, $195 Bellaire City Hall, 7008 S Rice Ave, Bellaire, TX 77401 Sign up