Exciting Changes at the Youth Activity Center!

The Youth Activity Center is constantly coming up with new ideas and fun things for families at Sawgrass. It’s a growing club with more and more families joining.

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

Lacie, the Youth Recreation Supervisor, and her staff recognize that kids want to have FUN during Childwatch and Kids Night Out, so they have been working hard over the past year to revamp programming for both. The rates are amazing, even if you are a three-child family. For our family, it beats the average rate of a babysitter!

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

In addition, Lacie has listened to us members and scheduled more family activities like camp outs, family shark tooth hunts, and Bingo at the Sandbar just to name a few. Check out the latest Horizons for all the fun fall events coming up!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lacie and asking her about new (and popular) activities at the Youth Activity Center. Here are some highlights:

What are the hours and rates of the Youth Activity Center?
Lacie: Child Watch: Tuesday- Saturday 9am-1pm and Kids Night Out Fridays and Saturdays 5-9pm.

Child Watch Hourly Rate: 1st Child: $6 | 2nd Child: $4.50 | Each Additional Child: $3.50
Kids Night Out Hourly Rate: 1st Child: $6 | 2nd Child: $4.50 | Each Additional Child: $3.50

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

Are there any new programs that members need to know about?
Lacie: Over the last year we have been working to enhance the daily activities we offer during Child Watch. Every month has a different theme, and all of our activities relate to that theme in some way. We begin each morning with “circle time” where we go over the day/month, weather, seasons, and practice our ABCs and counting! Throughout the morning our staff facilitates group games, crafts, and some sort of physical activity (think PE games, relay races, obstacle courses, tumbling) that relate to the monthly theme. When the weather is nice, we shuttle the kids to the beach or the fitness center playground to get some fresh air and exercise! Our goal is to offer more than babysitting; we want to create fun educational programming for our youngest members! For information on monthly themes and other activities, you can always visit our Foretees webpage!

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

And there’s the Family Tile Project. I’d like to invite any Sawgrass members to come to the Youth Activity Center on Saturday mornings from 9am-1pm to create their tile. We will have tables set up with paints and stencils so your family can design a tile to be mounted in the breezeway between the family and adult pool! No reservations necessary, just show up! We are really excited about how it’s going to turn out!

Lastly, we have begun a Kids MMA program with Sensei Tim Robinson. Students learn the basics of self-defense including punching, kicking, blocking, grappling, tumbling, wrestling, and being able to fight standing up or on the ground. Tim’s program is a blend of many traditional styles including Karate, Taekwondo, Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, Tai Chi, and Wing Chun Kung Fu. We definitely have room for more students, so contact me to sign up!

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

Are there any programs for tweens/teenagers?
Lacie: Yes! Our Youth Leadership Coaching Program for kids ages 11-17. Last year we partnered with Dr. Matthew Ohlson from UNF’s Leadership School and created an amazing course to help coach teens on skills and strategies to become effective students and future leaders of tomorrow! It was such a success that we are running it again this Fall. This 8 track program (4 in the fall, 4 in the spring) is held on Monday evenings at the Youth Activity Center, with 2 campus visits to UNF! Students will receive a certification of completion at the end of the year. Not only will participants gain self-confidence and valuable tools for leadership, this program also serves looks great on college applications or job resumes!

What are the new age limits for the Youth Activity Center?
Lacie: We have recently lowered the minimum age of CHILD WATCH to 12 months. We now accept children between the ages of 12 months and 12 years! This does change our staff:child ratio to 1:6 (as per DCF requirements), so sign-ups on Foretees are strongly recommended, especially in the summer months! Kid’s Night Out remains 18 months+.

What if a member needs a babysitter outside of operating hours? Is there a trusted resource that you recommend?
Lacie: We are partnered with an excellent babysitting service called Bumble & Bee. If you ever need a sitter outside our operating hours (or when we close for Family Programming around the club, which is no more than once a month and advertised in advance) we are happy to help you find a sitter through them!

Any teasers about fun family fall-themed events?
Lacie: We just had our Family Bingo Night on the Pavilion which was a huge hit, we will definitely do it again! In October we have our Halloween Themed Kids Night Out, pumpkin carving contest, and our first family shark tooth hunt! In November we have a “Fall Festival” themed KNO, a Family Beach Campfire, and a kid’s Surf Fishing clinic with Chef Dean! Check our our Foretees announcements page or Horizons for more details!

We know your staff works really hard, any specific kuddos you’d like to give?
Lacie: I have been so fortunate with great seasonal and full time staff members since joining here in early 2018. Ashley Miller is my main staff member, and she goes above and beyond anything I ever ask of her. She is reliable, excellent at age-appropriate activity planning, and has great rapport with all the parents and children who come through the Youth Activity Center.

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

Lacie’s goal is to “create meaningful memories for the families at Sawgrass. The programs I offer thrive on feedback from the members. If there is ever anything you’d like to suggest I am open and will do my best to make it happen! Please call or email me any time. Many of the events I have run over the last year have been based on suggestions from our families!”

Lacie is a joy, and she works really hard to give our kiddos the best experiences! Wouldn’t it be great if she got a ton of emails saying “you’re great,” “keep up the good work,” or “we LOVE you!”? I’ll be sending one today, would you consider sending one, too? Her email is lpetry@sawgrasscountryclub.com.

Thanks for all you do, Lacie!

Developing Doubles Strategy with Coach Lennon

Tennis at Sawgrass is amazing. The competitive matches, friendly round robins, and team clinics all offer opportunities to improve skills and build relationships with other tennis players.

Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club

I have LOVED learning doubles over the past year and a half! Last season, I played consistently with the same partner, Lindsay Long. By playing together each week, we learned what each others tendencies were, our best shots, court positioning in different situations, and how to encourage each other when we were winning (or losing!).

Now that we’re on the C team, opponents have gotten tougher. They are more consistent and more versed in strategy. So Lindsay and I decided to kick off the season with a lesson together focused on doubles strategy! The timing was great because we DID play together in our match the week we had the lesson.

We probably won’t be playing together every week, but these ended up being skills that we could take with us as we play with other partners.

Doubles Tennis Lesson

Lennon was our coach for the lesson, and he was really helpful! We expressed that we wanted to know how to change our game if the opponents were either better than us or using certain shots over and over to win points. The drills we worked on were designed to help us position ourselves better throughout the match in order to give us the best shot at winning.

Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club

After the warm up, here are a few things that we worked on specifically:

  1. We started out one up one back working on playing points quickly. He feeds in the ball, we hit the ball to a strategic spot on the court (or try to!). He feeds in the next ball right away to simulate the ball coming right back at us. After eight points, we switched positions. The balls could go to the baseline or net. We went back and forth for several rounds.
  2. Once we got the hang of it, he gave us a new goal. We were to return each ball to only one side of the court, all balls to the deuce side for example. He still fed in eight balls to either baseline or net, but they all had to go to the deuce side across the net. The point of the drill was to target the weaker player on the other side. Most of the time in matches, there is a stronger player, and it’s important to know when to avoid that player!
  3. Then he varied the drill, and we played all the points out with Lennon. We were still aiming for one side of the court. Because he was playing them out with us, they came at us faster. He stressed to us that we needed to recover to a spot on the court after striking the ball. Whether it’s coming to the net, stepping behind the baseline (or just inside the baseline), recover and be ready to split step to get the next ball. If you notice a pattern of play and winners they are hitting over and over again, take those shots away from them by recovering to a different spot on the court if necessary. During our match two days later, we encouraged each other when we saw one another “recovering to a spot” on the court!
  4. Lastly, we worked on serve returns. We see all kinds of serves, loopy, rainbow, fast, slice, you name it. Being confident returning all kinds of serves is important! I want our opponents to know they are not getting free points on serve! We even got to hit serves to Lennon, and practice recovering after the serve!

Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club

Over all, it was a great lesson! We talked about communicating, hitting solid ground stokes (knuckles over the ball!), recovering to get ready for the next shot, and stroke placement to target the weaker player on the other side. I would highly recommend taking a lesson with a partner that you play with often. It will boost your confidence as you play together!

Lennon encouraged us to talk to each other and work on displaying a united front…high five, cheer, whisper between points, and let mistakes and bad calls roll off your back. In the end, we’re not training for Wimbledon! It’s country club tennis, and it’s meant to be FUN!