Running a youth sports camp is a great way to share your love of your sport and help with player development. It can be daunting to think about running a 5 day camp for 6 plus hours a day. We have some tips on how to make planning camp a bit less stressful.
Promoting the Camp
You want to promote the camp in January for the summer. Parents are planning their summers and want to know what is available. With any service, your goal is to create a good value. This means that the price for camp has to be competitive with what you are offering.
Factors to consider are price, services, and coaches. The coaches are usually the attraction for the youth sports camp. You want coaches that are fun, knowledgeable, caring and energetic.
Guiding Prinicples To Run Camp
To run the camp, we came up with 5 guiding principles to deploy. These principles will help you execute the camp and provide a good experience for your campers.
When you plan for a camp, you need to over prepare. This means that you need to know your audience. Plan for drills that will help with development but are also new and fresh. Campers want to jump in their parents’ car at the end of the day chatting all about camp.
Prepare drills that can be adapted easily on the fly depending on your players. When players see that you are organized and have a plan, they are more engaged. As I always say, they sense weakness (lol).
Keep it Fun
There is that word again, FUN. Camp needs to be fun. No one comes to camp to NOT have fun. The drills need to be competitive. When you make something a competition, it becomes fun for all of the players. Keep things light, joke around with players.
Players remember if they had fun at camp, learned something new and made a new friend. This is more important than you think.
Watch the Clock
Camp can be a long day. Ensure that you are watching the clock to make sure you have ample time to play and rest during the day. This goes back to being organized. Watch the clock to ensure that you are spending enough time working and resting. You want players to have ample time to break, have a snack, get a drink and just talk to their fellow campers.
Keep Everyone Moving
You don’t want to have idle players. As the saying goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. Keep it moving and keep players going. The easiest way to keep players going is to do small groups in stations. Conduct drills that have little down time.
One trick I like is instead of changing stations, all groups would do the same drill at the same time. Imagine 3 groups of 10 players each doing the same drill. I like this if I have coaches that are new. This allows all coaches to focus on the drill.
“Read the Room”
Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t see why campers are tired. Try to read the room to determine the energy level.
Wrap Up – Pro Tip
When you are about to wrap up camp, think of what you can provide to make a lasting impression. I like when campers get a quick assessment and handwritten note from the coach or organizer. This simple touch is effective at providing feedback but also leaves that lasting impression – and possibly a returning camper for the next year.