LAKEWOOD – The World Cup just ended, but a summer soccer camp at Lakewood High School this week kept the fun and spirit of the sport alive for the next generation of would-be athletes.
And who knows, maybe among the more than 100 kids and high school teams’ players who turned out for the four-day camp, there’s a player who could wear a home jersey when the U.S. becomes one of the host countries for the 2026 World Cup.
This is the second year that Lakewood has hosted the soccer camp for kindergarteners through 5th graders, and it has been popular with local parents seeking structured activities for their children over summer break, Lakewood High Soccer Coach Nick Anderson said.
“You get the kids out here and involved,” Anderson said. “It’s nice for the campers – the kids – but it’s good for my kids – the soccer team counselors, too. They’re developing leadership qualities.
“Nothing teaches you how to become a leader quite like a group of 12-year-old children,” he said.
Camp is free, thanks in part to the Lakewood Sports Booster Club. Donations are welcome.
“We want every kid to be able to participate,” he said. The camp draws kids from schools in nearby districts. This year, he worked through the state Department of Social and Health Services office in Smokey Point to give 15 foster children a sport-specific activity to enjoy.
For the camp, the school’s flashy new athletic field was divided between the “bigs” in grades 3-5, and the “littles” for K-2.
Each day, kids rotated through a series of dribbling, passing, shooting and agility drills, with scrimmages and frequent water breaks.
“The idea is just keeping kids active and focused, and moving,” Anderson said. He has found that when young children aren’t moving, that’s when problems crop up.
Anderson modeled the camp after the Casino Road Soccer Camp in Everett, the gold standard among soccer camps in the region. He grew up in Everett and coached at Cascade High School, so he helped at that camp.
“Casino Road runs so smoothly, I thought, if it’s not broke, let’s do it here,” he said.
All the high school-age counselors play on the school’s teams.
Players like Cama Much, a junior defensive mid-fielder who will serve as captain for the girls soccer squad in the fall. This is her second year as a counselor.
“I love getting to hang out with the kids, and I like to get them excited about wanting to play soccer later on, just for them to see what it’s like here at the high school on this new field,” she said.
Much said she has been able to build on her leadership skills and the lessons she has learned will be helpful leading the team this fall.
Sara Dimen, a second-grader at Kellogg Marsh Elementary in Marysville, couldn’t keep away from her favorite counselor, Much.
Asked what she liked most about the camp, Dimen said, “That you can have popsicles, and making friends.”
“This is one of my friends,” she said, giving Much a big hug.
Juan Corrales, a junior center-midfielder, said he likes sharing his passion for soccer.
“I like seeing kids have fun playing the game that I love,” Corrales said. “I like helping them so they can enjoy it as much as I do. We learn a lot of lessons like how to turn a loss into something that you can improve on.”
During the World Cup, Corrales was rooting for his parents’ home country of Mexico, a team ranked high to hoist the cup, but that was eliminated early.
Counselor Chase Dawson, a sophomore wing on the boys soccer squad, called the camp amazing.
“I love how everybody comes together to help out children,” Dawson said.
English Crossing Elementary fifth-grader Logan Larreau came ready for soccer in his Seattle Sounders gear. He’s a huge fan of the rave green, and soccer is his favorite sport.
“I like that we do lots of games and scrimmages and stuff,” he said, adding, “I like how fun our counselors are.”
The last day of camp features a double-elimination tournament of five-on-five matches, with four age-specific teams in each group identified by country names including Spain, Iceland, Ireland and Brazil.
“This is when it becomes a little competitive,” Anderson said. “Of course, counselors get hyper-competitive about the tournament action, in a good way, which gets the kids all riled up. It’s a fun time, for sure.”