Upon meeting people and telling them what we do, Eric and I often field the question, “this is such a unique and wonderful idea for a camp, how did it come about?” Here is our reply:
We developed the idea of the Berkshire Soccer Academy for Girls with our partner, Dan Zenkel. Dan was a founder and the longtime CEO of Camp Group, one of the country’s largest owners of private summer camps. Needless to say, he knows a lot about traditional summer camps. Dan is also the parent of two, sports-loving teenagers. He coached nine seasons of AYSO soccer, eventually bowing out when his research and general knowledge of sports wasn’t enough. When it came time to send his daughter to a residential soccer camp, he was surprised by the options. Unlike the traditional summer camp world, none were run year-round by a dedicated staff of professionals; and none of the residential camps were longer than four nights. He was also disappointed with the care and supervision provided by the camp.
Dan recognized a problem and need that, as a camping professional, he felt capable of filling.
After leaving Camp Group in 2009, he purchased a beautiful, 116 acre summer camp property in the most scenic vacation spot in the Northeast, the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. Complete with cabins, a lakeside dining hall, and plenty of space to clear for sports fields, his vision was slowly becoming a reality.
He next set his sights on finding directors with experience in both traditional camping and women’s soccer. He connected with a camp colleague who referred him to Eric and Liza.
With a Masters in the Social Psychology of Sport, Eric was a long-time camper turned Athletic Director at Elmwood Day Camp, where is mother Bobbi is a Director. Eric subsequently served as Program Director at Woodmont Day Camp for two years.
Liza grew up playing elite-level youth soccer in Minnesota, traveling the globe with her nationally-ranked team. She went on to captain the Georgetown Hoyas. Upon graduation, Liza earned her Masters in Education while teaching elementary school through Teach for America.
Together, Dan, Eric and Liza embody the mission and values of the Berkshire Soccer Academy, striving to build a safe and fun community where girls can develop as both players and people.
Dan’s daughter is getting ready to start her freshman year at Vanderbilt University this fall. She has visited the Academy several times and is excited to have been the inspiration for something so great. She only wishes it would have been around when she was younger!