Summer Schools & Camps Guide
A coach and runner on first base at Camp Pemigewassett in Wentworth, New Hampshire.
American Camping Association/Courtesy photo
Trends in sports camps
For children who have a passion for sports, specialty camp experiences with a sports focus can offer a variety of benefits. Regardless of a camp's specialty area, it is the nature of camp to help children develop into caring, resilient, compassionate, independent people. But especially at sports camp, campers enjoy the community and friendships of peers and role models with similar interests. They are also able to concentrate on and gain confidence in the sport they love!
Ten percent of ACA-accredited camps offer a targeted sports focus. By comparison, in 2004, only 3 percent of ACA camps offered a targeted sport focus. That's more than a threefold increase in 10 years. You can even find sports at special needs camps, where the activities are geared to campers' abilities.
The diversity of camps today reflects the diversity of America — there is a camp for every ability level and interest, from horseback riding to soccer, race car driving to softball. According to ACA's most recent Sites, Facilities and Programs Report, 98 percent of responding ACA camps reported offering at least one sport even if sports were not a targeted focus. The top five sports activities offered are recreational swimming (87 percent), aquatic activities (76 percent), basketball (72 percent), archery (71 percent), and camping skills (67 percent). Unique offerings include fencing, lacrosse, SCUBA diving, windsurfing and more.
You and your child can search for the perfect camp experience on ACA's Find a Camp database (http://find.acacamps.org). This resource allows families to search for camp programs based on location, price, session length, and more — including whether the camp focuses on just one sports activity or multiple activities. When searching for multiple-activity camps, families can also search by intensity level — recreational, instructional, or intense/competitive. Camps are able to serve campers who are just looking to try a new sport, campers who are looking for serious skill building, and everyone in between! Begin searching early. Camps begin taking registrations well before the "camp season" begins.
Beyond the activities offered at a camp, it is also crucial to consider a camp's philosophy. ACA encourages parents to ask camp representatives if the camp is ACA-accredited. If not, ask why. ACA-accredited camps meet up to 280 health and safety standards and are a parent's best evidence that the camp is committed to the safety and well-being of their child. A few other tips for learning more about the camp's philosophy include:
• Ask "What is the camp's philosophy and program emphasis?"
• Ask "How does the camp handle homesickness and other adjustment issues?"
• Visit the camp if possible to see practices first-hand.
• Ask for references.
Quality sports camp experiences will not only improve a camper's skills or allow them to explore a new interest, they will nourish a child's social and emotional development as well. Camp experiences help children gain skills they'll use for a lifetime — both on and off the field!
Camp has been an American tradition for more than 150 years. Some things at camp — forming friendships, having fun, practicing new skills, and summer learning gains — will never change. But what are the camp trends today?
Who goes to camp?
ACA estimates that there are 12,000 traditional, organized camps in the U.S. Each year more than 11.5 million children, youth, and adults attend camp. Today we see a wide range of ages participating in the camp experience: from children as young as three participating in day camp programs to senior adults, participating in family camps and senior camps. The American Camp Association (ACA) has a vision that by the year 2020, over 20 million children and youth will have a camp experience each year.
The American Camp Association works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-accredited camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are more than 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit www.CampParents.org.
Reprinted from www.ACAcamps.org by permission of the American Camp Association; copyright 2013-14 by the American Camping Association Inc.
back to top