We’ve become a youth sports society that believes that in order to be successful in sports – or certainly improve as a player – a summer camp daily routine must consist of the following: stretching, warmup, sport-specific skill development, lunch, game situations, and competitive games.
Whatever happened to canoeing, swimming, fishing, crabbing, arts and crafts, and campfire stories? My sons’ recent experience at a traditional summer camp – after each attended two sports camps early in July – reminded me that there is and should be more to a summer camp experience than just sports.
Why write about this with the summer half over? Because now is the chance for you to search for next year’s traditional summer camp opportunity. My guess is the sports camp you selected for your child this summer came after hearing good reviews and maybe even visiting a session last summer before making the final decision. The same type of research can go into selecting a traditional summer camp.
You now have the month of August to visit traditional camps since they usually continue until the end of summer – many serve as childcare for working parents – compared to sports camps, which tend to wrap up by now as coaches, organizations and facilities get set for fall seasons to begin.
Find out where the traditional summer day camps are taking place in your area and plan to visit one or two that spark an interest. Don’t forget to take your potential camper with you. After all, they’re the ones who will get dropped off next summer.
You won’t have to make a financial commitment to a camp now, but this is the only time before next summer you’ll be able to visit and see “live” what your child can expect if they decide to attend. Visiting the camp location in April when it’s barren won’t show you or your camper nearly as much as dropping in now and seeing it full of kids.
A traditional camp doesn’t have to replace sports camps, but should be considered as an August alternative when children still need the opportunity to just be kids.
Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years with perspectives as a parent, coach and board member. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.