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Retreat Camps

Tennis and Life Camps is an organization that combines tennis instruction with life skills development, aiming to foster personal growth and character development in individuals. Our programs emphasize values such as integrity, responsibility, and leadership through the sport of tennis.


History – In January, 2013, two years after Tennis & Life Camps became a not for profit 501(c)(3), and with the stated commitment to diversity and inclusion, TLC launched its first retreat camp, titled “I Have a Name”. We brought together six groups of four students and chaperone (30 total campers) from rural and city organizations. We intentionally designed the camps to be gender and racially balanced, so conversations could be more fruitful when having dialogue about prejudices we carry within us.

For two winters we ran these camps, discussing, through story, music, and personal reflection, the biases we hold unintentionally and intentionally toward each other.

And then, the organizations who were bringing predominantly students of color, after voicing concerns over our programming, began to pull out, giving us feedback that, while the sessions were helping white campers open their eyes, it was at the expense of campers of color having to bare themselves in a way that felt exploitive.

This was not our intention. But, as we continue to learn we have discovered, intent is different than impact. Our intentions were good, but the impact was positive only for half of the camp population. This was distressing to hear and know.

We had a decision to make. Forge on saying “we are who we are and that is not our intention, so we are not going to change”, and look for other organizations to join us. Or, go to the organizations who were not being served by our structure and ask, “What are we missing?” Through difficult, and sometimes painful, conversations, we discovered that what was missing was any acknowledgement of the systems from which racism, sexism, religious intolerance, and sexual and gender identity discrimination spring, that prevent whole groups, not just individuals, access to the same advantages as those of us who of us who identify as white, male, straight, or from a Judeo-Christian tradition from birth. When we began to study and listen, we realized that the groups coming did not need to change. We did.

We changed our retreat camps to address the inequitable systems, thus making dialogue possible for all participants, and reflecting the needs of all of our campers, with the guidance of people from the groups who had left. What began as a painful experience, has become fruitful dialogues about how we can use our philosophy of Three Crowns • Positive Attitude • Full Effort • Good Sportsmanship to not only change ourselves but address the systems that many of our campers and staff members are excluded from.

The organizations returned as partners, not because of what we did, but because of what they did to help us realign and learn. And we are still learning.
We now train all TLC staff members in systems awareness as well as individual awareness of intentional and unintentional biases. We are committed to staff members and campers who come from traditionally marginalized groups having their voices heard through their leadership of sessions, through ongoing education, and through hiring diverse staff who reflect the make-up of the society we live in. Those voices have made us richer than anything we could have “taught”.

When we fail, we learn, make amends, and move forward. Thanks to the diverse staff and campers who make us who we are, now we are, indeed, moving toward having a name. And it is “all of us.”

Retreat Objectives


To provide an engaging and fun environment to learn tennis and become enthused about a possible life-long sport after campers leave, and to be able to practice the Three Crowns on and off court in all situations.


To explore personal identity in such a way as to become aware of race and gender privilege in the world; to explore the intersectionality of race, religion, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, economic status, etc.; and to practice the Three Crowns of positive attitude, full effort, and good sportsmanship as a tool to change unequal systems and build bridges to those who may be outwardly different from us.

On-Court Sessions

Campers will engage in different on-court lessons with instructors which include groundstrokes, volleys, serves, lobs and overheads, singles strategy, and doubles strategy. In addition, campers partake in station drills throughout camp where they will recieve individualized instruction from our instructors on the stroke of their choice. Our instructors focus on keeping it simple, finding what players do well and build from there, and using tennis as a vehicle for learning life skills. Campers are able to meet new people as they are placed in groups based on ability and community representation. Each group has an adult chaperone who participates in the lessons with the campers. 

Off-Court Sessions

Campers will be able to talk about ways in which inequity exists in race and gender and intersectionality (the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage) and how we can be positive agents for change by using the Three Crowns of attitude, effort, and sportsmanship. And the use of the universal Serenity Prayer focusing on what we can and cannot control: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” - Reinhold Niebuhr

Interest Form

Camps are fully funded by scholarships from TLC donors and are TLC invitation only. If you and/or your group, community, organization, or team would like to be considered, fill out our interest form below.

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