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 American Camp Association-accredited camps offer a targeted sports focus. By comparison, in 2004, only three percent of ACA camps offered a targeted sport focus. That’s more than a threefold increase in ten 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, ninety-eight 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.
Reprinted from www.ACAcamps.org by permission of the American Camp Association © 2014 American Camping Association, Inc.
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