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This is the second part of our series on selecting the right summer camp for your young athlete. Click here to read last week’s post on What Sports Parents Should Know When Selecting Summer Camps.
Whether you’re selecting a multi-sport camp for a younger child, a week-long single-sport camp for your middleschooler, or a resident camp for your high-school athlete, a little research goes a long way to finding the right summer sports camp for your young athlete. Here are some pointers to help you get started:
- Go online. Finding summer camps has never been easier. Most camps now have websites, and there are also a plethora of summer camp ‘aggregators’ that let you find camps in specific areas or for particular sports and other topics. Doing a quick online search for the type, location, and cost of the camps in which you are interested gives you a great ‘short-list’ from which to start.
- Get recommendations from friends. Truly, nothing is better in selecting a camp than word of mouth. Start by asking friends and teammates. What camps have they attended? What did and didn’t they like about the camps? If you are researching a sport-specific camp, ask your coaches. Many coaches work at summer camps or at least know the staff at the ones in your area and would happily recommend that you attend a camp run by someone they trust.
- Ask questions. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, don’t be afraid to ask questions and dig deeper into the camp curriculum and staff. Are the people listed as counselors going to be there the week in which you are interested? What are their qualifications? What’s the ratio of campers to staff? What equipment does your camper need? How much time will be spent on training in the sport and how much on other recreational activities? If it’s a resident camp, where will the campers stay and who will stay in the dorms or cabins with the campers?
As with most things in life, balance is the key. Don’t overload your child with too many soccer-specific, lacrosse-intensive, or baseball-only camps in a row; you’ll just invite burnout and injury. Try to balance the sports camps with your child’s other interests, like art, drama, creative writing, and science.
And no matter what you choose, remember to tell your young athlete to have fun. It’s summer! That’s what camp should be about.
Emily is a freelance writer living in Berkeley, California. Emily brings a lot of first-hand experience to the table having been team manager for her children’s soccer, baseball, basketball, and softball teams and she also captains a number of her own adult tennis teams.