Camps, Camps, and more Camps

Growing up playing sports or being around sports was what I wanted to do. I played a number of sports throughout the year and, especially in the summer. I can vividly remember going to a handful of sports camps as a kid. At that time the focus was just something to do.

There weren’t elite camps, especially what you see now. For my mom keeping her four kids active and out of the house during the summer. I was fortunate to have those experiences. I’m thankful for those opportunities. They shaped my childhood, and I’m sure many others have had similar experiences themselves.

At the younger ages, a camp is basically daycare and is a great way to increase revenue for the year. Parents are looking for a fun activity for their child to keep them busy and active during the day. I’ve had some people try to argue with me on this fact. They claim that camps are designed to increase a players overall performance and development. At the older ages I agree. I won’t argue that as there are many camps that do just that. However, if you’ve attended one of these camps or worked an all-day one sport specific camp you know how difficult it is to keep a child’s attention on one sport all day for a week. There’s only so much training and development that can be done over 6-8 hours. Equally, there’s only so much attention space kids have. Keep that in mind when planning your camp.  

As the youth sports culture has evolved the economic impact of camps has become big business. A result of this is the market being saturated with just about any camp activity you can think of. When planning a camp create something different. Establish what your goals are and build your camp off of that. Too often we think having a name behind the camp automatically means success. If you can provide value, and many can, you’re on your way to a successful camp.

If you have the skills to teach, or can learn, you can run a camp. There’s more to it on the back end, but it’s doable, and you can run a quality and efficient camp. I would personally recommend avoiding a camp that’s focused solely on drills and scrimmages. I think a key to a development camp at the younger levels should focus on skill building but doing it through play based games. In an effort to focus on training I feel some forget to include or encourage fun into the experience. The hope is that all campers learn and develop, but more importantly that they have fun and enjoy the experience.

Floorball like other sports is a great addition as a camp, for a long time I avoided running an all-day sport specific youth camp. There are a number of reasons for this, most of which have nothing to do with the sport. I’ve found that if it can open up more potential issues as people get tired and bored, especially as the week drags on. I’m speaking specifically to camps with younger kids in particularly. It’s not always the case, but it’s something to take note of.

If you’re thinking about running a camp figure out what your target market is and how you’re going to run and manage it. Do it. Don’t wait. Don’t ask for permission. Figure it out and make it happen. If you think you can provide value through the process make it happen. In the end the ones who will benefit are the kids, and that should be the end game.

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