Soccer camp makes annual return to Park City
Director Randy Farris has been involved since the ‘70s
June 16, 2017
The Park City Soccer Camp is schedule to make its return on Monday for the 38th year in a row.
The three-session camp, run by Park City Recreation, is set to take place at the North 40 fields for kids 6 to 15 years old, and fun is the main focus.
"It's not necessarily about drills and all that," camp director Randy Farris said. "It's more about teaching the kids skills through a bunch of different games that we've pretty much invented along the way. It's been a fun deal."
The first session of the camp will take place June 19-23. The second session is scheduled for June 26-30, and the third and final session will be July 10-14. Each day of the camp runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with half-day sessions available in the morning for each one.
Almost as fun as the camp, though, which includes competitions on and off the field, is the story of how the program started.
Having a deep love for soccer, Farris — along with Bob Martin — wanted to extend his passion for the sport to the youth. Farris and Martin were both coaching at Saint Mary's College in the 1970s; Martin coached the men's team, while Farris coached the women.
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Martin, who previously lived in Aspen, thought one way to spread his admiration for the game would be to host youth camps, which he did in Aspen in 1978. But Martin's parents also had a condo in Park City, so the duo decided to also host a camp here the following year.
"We'd spend part of the time in Aspen and part of the time in Park City," Farris said. "It was brand new. That was the original Park City Soccer Camp."
From 1979 to 1985, Martin and Farris hosted the camps, but it didn't come without struggle. The sport didn't have a huge following at the time, and Park City wasn't the robust, buzzing town it is today, so the camp was axed.
Or so they thought.
After retiring from his coaching position at Saint Mary's, Martin moved to Park City, where he has become the Director of the Park City Soccer Club. One day in 1997, Martin came across an ad for a Park City Soccer Camp and that had been run by Park City Recreation for 18 years consecutively.
So Martin gave the recreation department a call.
"Whose camp is that?" Martin claimed he said on the phone.
"It's ours," Martin was told.
"No, it isn't. It's mine," Martin clapped back. "I started that camp. Would you like the original staff?"
Despite Martin and Farris not watching over the camp for the previous 12 years, Park City Recreation, who helped the coaching duo reserve the camp's original field at City Park, ensured it would continue. Martin helped out for a couple of years after realizing the camp was still running, but soon bequeathed the project to Farris.
"This is for you to take over," Martin said to Farris. "This is your camp going forward."
Thirty-eight years later, minus a brief hiatus, Farris, who lives in California, is still the director of the Park City Soccer Camp. He returns to Park City every summer for the camp and stays in Martin's condo.
"Every year, I come back and work in conjunction with [Park City Recreation]," Farris said. "They set up all the fields and all that. It is considered a rec program. I continue to do the coaching and put the staff together and all that."
The camp has come quite a way since its inception in 1979.
"We get a super loyal following," Farris said. "The kids come back year after year after year. They generally will sign up for every week of the camp. They totally live around our camp."
The kids enjoy the camp so much that Farris typically hires older teenagers who were once upon a time attendees, but are now too old for the camp as counselors and coaches.
Farris really enjoys Park City, which is a big reason he continues to come back every year. But the main goal of running this camp is simple: further the passion of soccer in today's youth. From cancelling the camp in the mid-80s to nearly selling out each session every year, Farris believes the goal was achieved.
"Our goal really was to share the passion and love for the game of soccer with the kids and it kept growing and growing," Farris said. "We've achieved that and we have this loyal following. I believe when kids are having fun, they’re going to do great. These kids are obsessed with the fun that we have."
The first session of the Park City Soccer Camp is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on Monday at the North 40 Fields. For more information, visit https://onlinereg.parkcityrecreation.org/wbwsc/webtrac.wsc/splash.html?InterfaceParameter=WebTrac_1.