3 Ways To Get a 5 Star Review

Youth sports is a $5 billion industry. According to ESPN, 87% of boys and 82% of girls aged 8-17 have played some sort of organized sport. With those kinds of numbers, it is pretty safe to assume that a well-run sports camp can be a profitable and satisfying enterprise for its directors, as well as a positive experience for its participants.

With spring break coming up soon and summer vacation not too far off, parents are beginning to think about where to send their children for some fun and skill-building. There are several issues to consider when planning a sports camp which could help set your destination apart from all the others, and better ensure that your campers (and their parents) leave happy. Some of these points might seem obvious, but others are often overlooked and can lead to your camp’s success.

Of course the itineraries of camps will vary depending on sport, age levels, and recreational camp vs. instructional camp. However, the goal of any camp is to provide both fun and instruction. It’s imperative that the camp activities are geared for the age and skill level of your participants. We’ve all observed the younger kids picking at the grass in the outfield instead of catching fly balls. For younger campers with short attention spans, it is important to provide a healthy amount of play time between skill-building drills. An engaged camper is a happy camper. Similarly, recreational camps should welcome all skill levels, and instructional camps should still be held in an encouraging and positive environment, no matter the age group or how intensive.

This might sound like a no brainer, but your camp needs to be adequately staffed. When looking to boost your coaching staff, college players are good candidates for this role, and the younger campers will look up to them. I know I did when I first started going to baseball camps. College athletes have the experience in the camp sport, plenty of energy, and are well equipped to connect with the younger players. These students likely attended sports camps and know what works and what is boring for the kids when it comes to running activities. And these high schoolers further develop their own leadership skills and mentorship capabilities through coaching – a win-win for all concerned.


Allow campers to name their teams – gets everyone involved and builds camaraderie

If you divide your participants into teams or groups, consider letting the kids come up with their team names. This builds teamwork and camaraderie, and is a way to get all the participants involved from the get go.


Be sure to give praise for effort, not just achievement

Ensure that all coaches offer regular, positive feedback to all participants. It’s easy to give praise for outstanding achievements, but effort should be praised just as highly. Remember that not all participants will be superstars. Praise given for effort is a confidence booster and should not be overlooked.


Create daily themes to keep the activities fresh

When organizing a multi-day camp, consider scheduling a daily theme created around a particular goal or skill. For week-long camps, for example, each day’s skill can build on the prior day’s goal, culminating in just the playing of games with no more drills by the final day.


Another important issue, and one which is often overlooked by camp directors, is to consider the value of inclusivity within your camp. This refers to ensuring that a participant, regardless of skill level, physical shape, or financial situation, has a place in your camp. Not every child signing up for a sports camp is destined to end up in the Hall of Fame. While many participants may already have years of experience under their belts, other members may be completely new to the sport. If you provide the opportunity for all participants to develop their skills, confidence, and the other intangibles that come through the playing of sports such as empathy and a sense of teamwork, you will be widening your customer base and likely getting return campers season after season.

How about securing a special guest coach to wrap up your camp session? Obviously a professional athlete would be the ultimate get, but even a standout local college athlete will have a large impact on your campers. A successful older player provides a positive influence for the participants; supplying? strong role models is a definite boost to any camp. I once volunteered at an event featuring top MLB prospect Hunter Greene, and there was an amazing turnout and he was great with the kids. Having the guest take part in the activities, or simply speaking to the campers, may very well be the highlight of the session.

Playing a sport provides physical activity, builds self-esteem, creates friendships, and teaches life lessons such as teamwork. Providing a camp that is both fun and educational is an invaluable service.