When choosing a sports camp, there are many, many questions to ask. The size of the program, number of session days, distance from home, and philosophy should all influence your decision. The cost, length, and type of a particular program are not necessarily connected with “results” so best to know what both you and your kids want out of a summer sports experience.
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To begin, research all potential programs and if possible, meet with a representative and talk with past participants. Brochures, websites and videos are also really helpful in answering questions about activities, staff, supervision and facilities. If you’re deciding whether your son or daughter is ready to go away to a residential camp, start by asking the following questions.
- Has your child been away from home for more than one night without family members?
- Can she/he take care of personal belongings?
- Can he/she care for basic hygiene needs, like brushing your teeth?
- Does your child like the outdoors?
- Can your child cope with unfamiliar people, places, and schedules?
- Does she/he enjoy making new friends?
- Does she/he like group situations?
Although age is one factor in readiness for sleep-away camp, a child's maturity level and personality are more important indicators. Talk with your son or daughter about camp and see if he or she really wants to go. Chances are if your child is enthusiastic about the experience and you are supportive, a great time will be had.
Once you decide your child is ready for camp, ask yourself these questions to decide what kind of camp is right:
Does your child mainly want to have fun with friends? If so, don’t spend a lot of money on a specialized camp. Traditional Camps offer a wide range of activities, including sports & games. They also usually include such traditional activities as arts & crafts, campfires, and water sports.
Does your child want a competitive environment? Competitive sports camps generally provide training for athletes who participate in school and other leagues. If you are looking for a program that emphasizes sports in a more informal environment, choose a Multisport program or one that emphasizes non-competitive learning.
Does your child want to improve his or her sports skills? If improving technical skills is your main priority, enroll in a program in a Specialty Camp with coaches who can demonstrate skills and take the time to correct problems. Specialty Camps focus on a particular area of interest such as Goalkeeping, Horsemanship, Pitching, Scoring, etc.
Does your child want to improve his or her tactical sense? Tactics are learned over time and from mistakes therefore, you should consider attending a longer, tactical-oriented program with lots of coaches per player.
Does your child want to bond with his or her team and develop more team strategies? If moving your child's team to the next level is important, maybe you should talk to the coach and teammates about attending a “Team Camp.” Many programs can accommodate teams or offer special sessions for teams.
Does your child want to get in better physical condition? This should only be of concern to kids over 12 years, who will benefit by cultivating growing muscle mass and lung capacity. Check out programs that offer this emphasis–but be sure your child has a medical exam to verify his or her basic physical condition.
Is your child getting bored with the sport he or she plays? If your child's batteries need recharing, pick a program with an athlete he or she admires or in a special location – which may cost more money but will keep your young athlete energized about his or her sport.
There are so many great choices, you'll wish you could go to camp, For those who are raising adrenaline junkies, there are a number of action sports camps where participants can shred to their heart’s delight. Woodward and Windells are two of the best known for pushing the envelope. Windells features the Northwest’s largest indoor and outdoor skate parks. They also offer year-round snowboarding and every US Olympic snowboard medalist to date has been a camper there at one time. At Camp Woodward, kids learn to skateboard, ride bmx, or inlike skate as well train in more traditional sports such as cheer or gymnastics.
Looking for your child to get some international experience? How about a youth soccer camp in Europe or South America where young players learn a foreign language while being trained by expert Danish, Brazilian, or Chilean coaches. There are a number of U.S., European and South American summer programs that also arrange for international tournaments and competition.
Many college athletic programs host summer residential and day camps in specialized activities ranging from swimming and diving to basketball, softball, volleyball and other NCAA sports. Kids get to train with nationally recognized collegiate coaches and residential campers can experience what it's like to live on a campus - really helpful for high school students starting to think about college.
Whatever you decide, the main goal should be for your child to have fun! If you’re looking for a camp, check out this camps & clinics database with thousands of choices. Many programs still have space for this summer so let the games begin…
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