4-1-1on Sports Camps

April 1st, 2015 | By Gary No Comments

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It’s hard to believe but true … it won’t be long before school is finished for the year and summer vacation is here. And for many kids, summer means camp!

Summer sports or recreation camps can be a great way to keep kids busy, but even more important is the fact that they are really beneficial. And we are lucky to have so many to choose from. So, what should you look for in a camp and what should you expect to get out of it?

Here in the Athens area, there are probably several families in your social circle and/or neighborhood who can help you understand the ins and outs of sports and recreation camps.  We called on a few that we know who have sent their kids to just about every type of sports camp you can imagine: local recreation, high school and college camps for soccer, football, baseball, basketball, tennis, volleyball and cheerleading, and more.

We sat down with several coaches, parents, and children to get their insights and suggestions about sports camps from the different perspectives:

The coaches we spoke with said that the primary benefit of sports camps is just playing and doing the sport. The more that children play and the more repetitions they get, the better they will be at that sport and probably others. It also exposes them to new teachings and techniques.

At any camp, children should expect to get quality time working in the sport that camp focuses on, including time spent training with new techniques from an experienced staff. There is also the opportunity to take that training and those new techniques learned and apply them in a competitive environment.

Here are some questions you may want to ask before enrolling your kids in a summer sports camp:

  • What do they do if it is raining or dangerously hot outside?
  • Do campers receive individual instruction as well as general/group instruction?
  • Are there mechanisms in place for engaging my child so he/she is paying attention, listening, asking questions?
  • If my children attend a college-based camp, will they have the opportunity to meet athletes and coaches from that institution?
  • What are the objectives of the camp? Do you seek to increase skills in a particular sport? Increase overall fitness? Teach independence and decision-making? Teach team-building and confidence? All of the above?

And, from the more pragmatic perspective:

  • How much does the camp cost, and what is included (transportation, meals/snacks, private instruction, equipment)?
  • How and when is payment required?
  • What are our options for camp dates, times and locations?
  • Do you have a registration deadline and how quickly do your camps fill up?
  • Is any special insurance required?
  • Are instructors certified and, if so, by what organization(s)?

Most of the parents we spoke with feel that their kids have benefited greatly from their participation in sports camps. The consensus was that the kids became more independent and learned to make their own choices. They meet other students they would not normally have an opportunity to play with. Now, with Facebook and other social networking options, they stay in touch with those kids. So even from the social aspect, camp usually has big benefits.

They have also learned that what is important when choosing a camp has changed based on the ages of their children. For instance, when they were younger, the opportunity to obtain an overall experience and what fit into the family’s schedule and budget seemed to be the priority. As they got older and were more committed to their sports, they found that camp could give them good experience, even helping them move up to their next level of achievement.

Some good advice for parents as you consider sending your kids to sports camps is to make sure they have fun, especially when they’re young. Children and parents should not have any expectation that the camper will come away from camp ready to become a world class athlete or to lock in a college scholarship. The camps expose youth to sports and that should be a positive experience; parents have a lot to do with that.

Local club or high school camps are often more affordable options, but that does not mean they are not as good. They usually have smaller enrollments so they may be better fits for campers seeking more individual attention. You might also consider a day camp option for college camps to save money. Campers receive all the same training and activities, but they can come home and sleep in their own beds at the end of the day.

For a list of sports camps in the Athens area, check out our sports camp section at www.AthensMOVE.com/camps.

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