First of all… What is a Sports Camp?
They are supervised programs for children and teenagers conducted in summer months in many countries around the world, and they include different sports training, as well as off-camp activities where children can participate, stay physically active, learn more about their sport, have fun and build character.
Most of the camps that take place in summer months are held on college campuses.
The biggest sports camp and the first one ever created was the US Sports Camp which was founded back in 1975 from Charlie Hoeveler, a tennis player who first created TennisAmerica (TA), a multi-network of camps featuring “celebrity” coaches.
Although these camps were initially dedicated to tennis, the company grew and is now on a whole new level, offering programs 16 different sports.
There are now more than 900 across the U.S. serving more than 90,000 campers in a year.
Today, US Sports Camps, as licensed operators of NIKE Sports Camps, is the largest sports camp company in the world.
Anyone can find a camp near them, by simply selecting their sport and their city state zip.
A typical summer session that lasts a few days includes:
Professional instruction from college-age instructors and coaches.
Residential and dining facilities
Low camper to instructor ratios
Daily intense preparation for college as well as personal goal setting
Match competition on final camp day
Seminars on nutrition, mental preparation, strength, and conditioning
Small group sizes
Of course, there are many other summer camps across the world and in the EU that are specializing in various sports such as the EUROSPORTSCAMPS who are offering camps for tennis, football, hockey, golf, and cricket.
For example, a typical football camp can host children from 8 to 17 years old, and there is a choice between two programs specifically designed by English Premier League football clubs.
The typical weekly cost for participation is approximately £1,400.
The company offers special camps for both girls and boys and it is also sponsored by Nike.
There are also many other summer camps that are licensed from other huge sports companies, like Adidas and they as well offer a range of sports such as golf, tennis, soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball as well as lacrosse.
For example, the MBSC sports camps offer complete programs tailored to every young athlete’s needs and it can last up to 4 weeks.
For example, a typical baseball program can consist of 5 to 6 hours of daily instruction from experienced coaches and they also offer small groups of athletes (8: 1 camper to instructor ratio), daily fundamental development and team play, infield drills and outfield drills, base running, fun supervised off-campus activities and Adidas camp t-shirt giveaways.
The locations can vary according to the sport and area you are interested in, and the programs are divided based on different proficiency levels: beginners, intermediates and advanced players of all ages between 8 and 18 years old.
You probably already know that choosing a summer sports camp for your child is not an easy task.
There is a variety of them all over the world and according to what sport your child is practicing, you need to research which will be the right one based on many parameters.
Here are some tips on how to choose the right camp for your children
Camps will help student-athletes to understand the fundamentals of a sport and they will also provide a fun way of building self-esteem and motivate your child.
They will also help in building problem-solving skills, communication skills, they will learn how to be team players, and sometimes they will also get the chance to be exposed and find a door open for them in their future athletic career.
1. You will need to research the history and the culture of the summer camp.
It is very crucial to understand that not all camps will be a good fit for your child.
Its reputation and the resources available might be a match and as a result, turn out to be a great investment for your children, or it can turn out to be a total failure and waste of time.
2. Find out about the experience of the staff as well as the director’s experience.
Who are the coaches and what is their background? This is an essential step in order to find out if the camp proves to be as reputable as it seems.
Finding out if there are staff members that are returning year after year is a good sign of a reputable camp.
3. Research who is designing the sports programs.
What does the program include? How many hours per day does practicing last and how many days does the whole program last?
What is the schedule for the rest of the day and what activities are included off-campus?
Are they supervised and what do these activities include? It is extremely important for a camp to keep the balance between leisure and training. That is what makes them so popular after all.
A schedule with no off-campus activities would be tiring for a child or a teenager, so make sure you read reviews and find out what are those activities.
Also, another important detail is to know the camper to instructor ratio, meaning that the smaller the group, the better it will be for your child.
Most camps will have different programs according to your child’s level. So make sure there is one dedicated to beginners as well as for intermediate campers.
This is very important as your child must feel at the same level as the other children and not left behind.
4. Which sports are included and who are the coaches for each one?
Multi-sport camps are a better option than the ones that focus and specialize in just one.
This increases the diversity among athletes-children and ensures an overall better experience for the child.
Furthermore, the number of campers increase meaning that children and young teenagers have the opportunity to meet and make friends from other sports, other countries and learn more about them.
While your child will participate only in one sport, he/she will have the chance to come together with other children from other sports for exciting non-sport activities.
5. Learn everything regarding supervision.
Sometimes parents want to know in which ways boys are separated from girls in co-ed camps. You can ask questions about how they are separated and how they are supervised during training as well as after sports or during off-camp activities on the weekends.
Normally it should be no more than one supervisor to 10 campers.
6. Who owns the camp and in what ways they are involved?
Would you want the owner to be present in every single activity in the camp or you do not really care about it?
Sometimes owners do not even lay their eye on your child, and other times they are like a part of a family with organizers who will consider your feedback and want to form a relationship with the parents.
It depends on the preferences really.
Nevertheless, owners that are part of the everyday activities and they get involved in everything show a better sense of commitment and professionalism, and they also tend to behave to children like they were their own.
What are the benefits of sending your child away in a camp?
Although sometimes your child might feel a bit of separation anxiety sleeping away from home and their parents for their first time, it is one of the most beneficial experiences that they can commit to.
Children will realize how much they were missing out because of how technologically saturated this world has become and rediscover what it really means to have a childhood.
They also get the chance to socialize with other people around the world and also unplug from technology.
A few weeks away from home is a good chance to shape their character and motivate them to become better and more independent.
Some children are really missing social skills because of how much bombarded we are from technology and without a doubt joining a camp will improve those skills and build up their confidence while interacting with other children.
Children that leave home for a couple of weeks might find it a bit difficult to function in the beginning due to how dependent they are to their parents. Being in a camp and following a schedule teaches them a lot about timekeeping and responsibility. For example, children will be expected to wake up and sleep on time, as well as keeping their rooms tidy and clean, make their beds and be on time in every activity and event that they have to attend.
Yet, they will experience the freedom of being on their own for the first time.
Living at a camp with other children will also make them learn how to build their endurance and self-control, as well as the need to behave in a certain way, even if your child will not necessarily get along with every other child in the group.
Last but not least, your children will be physically active most of their time, as most camps focus on daily physical drills, scrimmages, playing games and many more.
Campers soon realize that the physical demand will be much better than being in a room playing video games or being on the phone all day.
Everything will contribute to positive character changes.