Lucas goes two-wheeling with his “biggest” fan.
On the cover page: The Kampman family. From left, Linde, Lucas, Elijah, Ben and Aaron.
Family photos by Linde Kampman.
Kampman Packer photo courtesy of packers.com.
A season for everything
August has come. Aaron Kampman kisses his wife and three young sons goodbye, tosses a suitcase in his truck and heads south from his comfortable suburban home in Howard. In 20 minutes, he will pull into the parking lot of Victor McCormick Hall. For the next three weeks, Kampman and his Green Bay Packer teammates will call the St. Norbert campus home and, for the 52nd consecutive season, the college welcomes them.
For the veteran, Kampman, and his wife, Linde, training camp marks another season in their family’s life. “August, and therefore training camp, is always a more challenging part of the year for our family,” he says. “With three small and active boys, our lives are always eventful. However, with half the parental force absent, you can imagine it becomes more demanding for Linde.”
To assist, the Kampmans get help from the sidelines through visits from family. “We still get to see one another,” Kampman continues. “We have about six or seven hours off on Wednesdays and that makes it nice to spend some time together.”
With three boys under the age of 6, three weeks away means missed opportunities to witness family “firsts,” so those Wednesdays can be precious times. An obviously proud father, Kampman says, “My older son, Lucas, just learned to ride his bike without training wheels, so he is already asking to make sure I come home so we can ride bikes together.”
For the Packers’ No. 74 and his teammates, the rest of the week is all business. Although the Packers sleep and eat at St. Norbert, they spend most of the day at their regular practice and locker room facilities on the Lambeau Field campus. Long days of practice, workouts and meetings are physically and mentally demanding and, for new players, rookies and others fighting for positions, camp can be daunting.
Now in his eighth
Packer training camp, Kampman says, “I have at least some familiarity with what to expect. I always try to enter training camp – and life, for that matter – with a one-day-at-a-time approach. If you look too far in advance, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.”
Good advice for a series of days that start early, go late, and are filled with activity for both players and training camp fans. In the evening, back at St. Norbert, players have a chance to refuel and unwind.
“To me, the highlight of the dorms is the great food that is provided for us there,” Kampman says.
The dinner hour, and the time afterward, give players with a chance to connect: “Training camp provides a time to get to know one another at a deeper level. Whenever you spend a lot of time with someone going through the same challenging experiences, it creates a bond that is very strong.
“The team is a team, yet there is the reality that 30 to 35 guys who are part of the team in August will not be with the team in September.”
Even with that predictable attrition, Kampman values the aspect of training camp that builds community within the team. “I have found training camp to be a great place to start building bridges. You get to really see a lot more of how a person responds to life simply because we are with each other so much.
“Because of that, there are many more entry points to develop and foster relationships that may not have been created otherwise.”
Kampman emphasizes that he puts a high value on those connections, an emphasis that stems from his spirituality. The Kampmans are committed Christians and are known for their community and church involvement, and for global missions activities. This spring, Kampman completed a certificate of graduate studies through Dallas Theological Seminary.
It is no surprise, then, that time for reflection and contemplation is a regular part of Kampman’s day, no matter where he is. “Training camp is actually a great time of study and prayer,” he says. “One practical way I stay spiritually fed during camp is in my vehicle to and from the stadium. It’s an easy drive and usually only takes about 15 minutes – a great time to turn off the radio and cell phone, and sit and drive and converse with God.”