8 Things You Should Know Before Choosing a Sports Camp for Your Child

Multiethnic group of happy male friends with soccer ballWith summer approaching, it's time for parents to start scheduling sports camps for their kids. As you're conducting your search, be sure to keep these things in mind when choosing a sports camp.

What is the Camp’s History and Reputation?

There are definitely some great new camps out there. But camps that have built a trustworthy reputation for offering a quality staff and environment, and top-notch summer fitness are often worth the extra cost. A camp would not still be in business after many years if it were unsafe, poorly run, or didn’t deliver a quality experience.

What is the Camp’s Philosophy and Focus?

There are camps where kids play sports, and there are camps where kids learn how to improve their skills. Just because the flyer says that this is a basketball camp doesn’t mean that your child will be doing more than scrimmaging all day. If that’s what you want, then go for it. But if you want your child to learn something new to help his game, find out what you are paying for.

Does the Camp Have a Well-Trained Staff?

Nothing wrong with high school kids helping out the younger ones, but be sure they are well-trained and know what they are talking about when it comes to your child’s sport. Ask how they are trained and how they are chosen to be on the staff. The same goes for the adult staff. Don’t assume just because they are working at a sports camp that they know their stuff.

Does the Camp Offer Your Child Choices?

Your child will feel more independent if he can choose some activities, rather than having every moment planned for him.

Does the Camp Communicate Well With Parents?

Do they have a plan for letting parents know about upcoming events, and for notifying them if a child becomes sick or injured? What is their rule on camper cell phone usage?

What is the Camper-to-Counselor Ratio?

To make sure your child gets the individual attention and supervision he or she needs for his or her age, compare the camp's counselor-to-camper ratio to the American Camp Association standards. For day camps, ratios range from 8:1 for 6-to-8-year-olds, to 10:1 for 9-to-14-year-olds, and 12:1 for campers ages 15 and up. For sleepaway camps, the general recommended ratio is 6:1 for 7- and 8-year-olds, 8:1 for 9-to-14-year-olds and 10:1 for campers ages 15 and up.

What are the Camp’s Rules for Behavior?

Be sure your child understands his boundaries. No cellphones allowed? No going for a walk alone? If it’s an over night camp, what are the curfews and male/female restrictions?

Does the Camp Care about Creating Community?

Even sports camps that heavily focus on developing skills are a social environment for kids. Good camps try to create an inclusive experience for every kid. In 21 years of sports parenting, I sent my kids to quite a variety of sports camps. And the bottom line was that I usually got what I paid for. If you can afford more quality instruction and that’s what you and your child are looking for, then go for it. But if your child just wants to play, have fun, and just get some summer exercise, then less expensive summer camps are probably your best choice.   

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