Questions To Ask Sports Camps
photo courtesy of ESF Summer Camps
Kids attend sports camps to improve skills, stay active during the summer and have fun. These questions can help you match a sports camp with your child’s interests and abilities.
Sports all day? “The first thing parents need to ask themselves is, ‘Would my child be happy playing sports from 9am to 3pm every day?’” says Greg Ackerman, director of admissions for ESF Summer Camps, which has sports camps in Moorestown and Lawrenceville, NJ and in Chester Springs, Chestnut Hill, Haverford, Newtown Square and Rosemont, PA.
A sports camp is a great way to give your child exercise, but if your child doesn’t love sports, he can still get exercise each day at most traditional day camps where games and sports are part of the schedule.
If your child likes sports, but hasn’t honed in on one as a favorite, a camp that feature several sports each week rather than just one may be a good option. “Kids have the opportunity to discover a sport they like that they may never have had a chance to play before,” says
How competitive is the camp? If your child has had little experience in a sport, she might not be comfortable at a sports camp geared toward experienced kids or where the emphasis is on competition. Ask the camp how competitive it is, whether beginners are welcome and how campers are divided — by age, ability or both.
“Parents of children who may be less athletic will also want to ensure that a sports camp has zero tolerance for bullying. First and foremost, camp should be fun for all children, regardless of their fitness level or ability,” says Michael Chauveau, executive director of American Camp Association’s Keystone Section.
What will my child gain? Aside from skills, a good sports camp will offer valuable life lessons. At Philly Point Guard Camp, which conducts a basketball camp at several Delaware Valley sites, teamwork is stressed.“Sometimes boys don’t want to pass the ball to girls, but we tell them some of the girls may be better than you, and even if they aren’t, everyone needs a turn with the ball and a chance to get better,” says director Mark Perner. “We teach the kids they have to trust each other.”
In addition to tot and specialty camps, The Independence School in Newark, DE offers a variety of sports camps. They have “a keen emphasis on sportsmanship, lifetime athletics and physical fitness,” says Debbie Donnelly, director of extended day and summer camps. She says the attributes of good sportsmanship, such as respect and fairness, are valuable lessons applicable off the playing field, and instilling the importance of physical activity can have lifelong health benefits.
How experienced is the staff? The staff at a good sports camp has generally played the sport at the college level or has experience coaching at the high school or college level.
Chauveau says, “For sports camps, it’s important that besides whatever sports skills counselors may have, that they also enjoy and be experienced in working with children — particularly when working with young children.”Parents should always ask about the camper to counselor ratio,” he says. “A good guideline for children age 8 and under is a five-to-one ratio, and eight-to-one for older children.”
What safety precautions does the camp take? Is there medical staff on-site? If not, how close are medical facilities? Does the camp have an emergency plan for accidents? How are head injuries handled? Do staff members know the signs of a possible concussion?
Chauveau notes that if the camp is accredited by the American Camp Association, it must meet more than 300 standards for safety, operations and programming.
How much does it cost? Sports camps generally cost between $125 and $300 for a week of half-day camp and between $225 and $575 for a week of full-day camp.
Susan Stopper is a contributing writer to MetroKids. To find a sports camp, check out MetroKids' Camp Guide.