Ready for sports camp this summer? How do you know which one is right for your child? Beyond the obvious questions of safety and supervision, there are many different opportunities and it can be challenging to find the right one that fits your child’s needs.
The first step would be to evaluate your child’s ability and interests. Some sports camps are for the more serious or developing athlete with an eye towards improving his/her already competitive ability in their chosen sport. Other camps are for the beginner to lower level intermediate players who are ready for a good introduction or review of their sport of interest.
That first step of evaluating your child’s ability and expectations is critical in selecting the right camp. Placing a child who is just showing an interest in a particular sport or just finding their “athletic self” into a camp for the serious, experienced athlete, or expecting a more serious player with more developed understanding and ability to enjoy a fundamentals camp is a recipe for disappointment. Not to mention wasted development and of course the inevitable loss of money and time when your child is unhappy.
Once the first step of evaluation is completed, the next step would be to find the right camp that fits your expectations and other important considerations.
Additional considerations would include:
Location- The perfect camp that is more than 10 miles out of your way may not be a good choice.
Schedule Needs – Some sports camps only offer half-day programs. For the school age camper under 12 a full day is far too much to focus on a specific sport especially if your child is a beginner or intermediate level player. If the camp will also serve as a summer care program for a working family, the half-day approach will not be the best choice. Other schedule and program considerations include the availability of extended care for the working parent and what additional activities are available for the times when the attention span of the sport instruction has worn off. Is the non- sport time enriching and fun?
Coaches- For beginner-level younger athletes, experienced high school or college students with expertise in the sport will do fine as long as the program is structured and conducted by a reputable and experienced organization. For more demanding athletes, a professional adult or at minimum college age level coaching should be expected.
Choosing the right summer experience for your child is important, expensive, and challenging. The right approach and most effective first step is to understand your child’s needs, expectations, and how it best fits your family’s needs.
Chris Murrell is the founder and director of East Bay Youth Sports and California Adventure Camps. Recognized as a top youth coach in the Bay Area he earned accolades as the 2004 Bay Area Youth Coach of the year. Coach Murrell’s focus in youth sports has always been the development of character, confidence, leadership, teamwork and friendships through sports. Chris Murrell Sports-April