What should I keep in mind about sending my kids to a summer sports camp?
Enrolling a child in a sports camp positively focused around their interests ensures their vacation time and your money is well spent.
When choosing a camp it’s important to consider the following:
Dropping your child off can sometimes be a daunting experience for any parent, particularly for the first time. A good camp will have a robust check-in and pick-up procedure in place that gives you peace of mind that the safety of participants is at the forefront of the planning process. In these uncertain times of COVID-19, does the camp program have a stated and published COVID-19 program delivery plan that follows current requirements from the state and city in which they operate? Additionally, parents should consider sending kids to camp with masks, hand sanitizer, plenty of water and sunblock!
Consider what accreditation, qualifications and experience the coaches at camp possess. All coaches should be background-checked through a recognized organization and held to high standards through training and observation by their camp provider. A camp whose staff has experience working with the same age group as your child is more important than choosing a camp with the highest qualified staff you can find. All being said, professionally licensed, qualified and trained coaching staff who are accountable to a respectable parent organization are more likely to be held to the highest standards of program delivery.
A good measure of the quality of the experience is if a camp has taken time to build a curriculum that will teach more than one type of skill. Sports in general offer a great opportunity to teach social skills, cognitive skills, goal setting, initiative and to help build confidence. A camp that recognizes this opportunity will likely have a solid vision for what their program sets out to achieve for its participants.
Camp pricing can range from around $100 to several hundreds of dollars, and each program caters to a different level of player. Understanding the needs of your individual child and how this relates to a balance between fun and their skills development is important. Remembering that fun is the most important driver of success for your child should help you evaluate the investment you make into a camp program for your child.
Naturally, choosing a program as a form of child care is often a great option for many parents. Caution this need with the need to prevent burnout for your child. An outdoor soccer camp for seven hours a day for your 8-year-old may not be their idea of fun but a three-hour program may just be perfect for them. After all, the opportunity to learn only happens in a fun environment and the last thing your child needs is to be disengaged for long periods of time in a program that lasts far longer than they are able to handle.
Finally, going to camp with a friend is often comforting for younger kids and fun for older kids! It’s not a determining factor since the ability for kids to interact with others and make “new” friends at camp is a great opportunity to develop their social skills as well as learning how to adapt to new situations. Consider syncing calendars with school or community friends for some camp weeks and allowing your child to experience the opportunity to attend on their own or with others.
Dave Brown is the COO of Liverpool FC International Academy SoCal and has been working in, directing and managing staff at soccer camps for over 25 years. http://lfciasocal.com/camps
(Photo Courtesy of Artem Kniaz on Unsplash)