The best little secret in cross-country camps throughout the south is held in Woodlawn, Tennessee just a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of Tennessee's fifth largest city Clarksville. The Tennessee Cross-Country Camp is held at Camp Cumberland - a 250 wooded acre site with a 50 acre lake as its center piece. Rolling hills, trails and a beautiful lake loop make this a runner's paradise.
This camp isn't your usual running camp; sure there's the early morning runs and the afternoon workouts, but there's a lot more going on. The camp director, Dr. Douglas Molnar, is the Head Cross-Country and Track Coach at Austin Peay State University. He and his assistant Ryne Sexton have been teaching campers not only the physical side of running, but also the mental side.
Molnar, who has a Ph. D. in sport psychology from the University of Tennessee, leads campers through sessions about mental toughness, grit, relaxation, team building, and goal setting. Campers leave the camp with plenty of mileage under their belts, but also an appreciation for mentally what it takes to become a champion, goals for the season, a skill assessment and plenty of friendships.
"I really think that's what makes this camp different," said Sexton when asked about Tennessee Cross-Country Camp. "Sure the athletes get to run a lot, but the individual relationships the coaches get to make with the campers and the relationships the campers develop with each other. You see them at meets and they are cheering for each other even though they may be rivals. That's what this camp is all about."
This camp is definitely all about that and having fun. Three of the great traditions at the Tennessee Cross-Country Camp are food, human foosball and the afternoon long epic battles of capture the flag.
That's right, Human Foosball! Two teams of five are locked in an oversized chicken coop with goals at either end holding on to colored straps hanging from the ceiling. As a soft soccer ball is rolled in and watch the chaos. Capture the flag games have lasted for hours with teams battling it out over the rolling hills of the camp. Rumor has it that the counselors actually gain weight from all of the unbelievable food prepared by the Camp Cumberland staff.
If you are looking for a great camp at a great price this seems to be the place. More information can be obtained by checking out www.tnathleticproject.com or calling Coach Sexton at 615-419-0785. Happy running.