Choosing the Right Camp
Over the course of this series we will examine the role of the tennis camp in a young player’s development. Tennis camps come in all shapes and sizes and there are programs for each level of player and we will examine the differences, expectations and benefits in attending a tennis camp this coming summer.
The series will feature articles on:
1. The Modern Camp
2. **How to Choose the Right Camp**
3. The Benefits of Attending a Tennis Camp
4. How to Attend Camp on a Scholarship
5. The Role of Parents in the Camp Experience.
PART II: How to Choose the Right Tennis Camp:
In the first part of this series, we looked at THE MODERN TENNIS CAMP.
What types of camps exist, what type of experience a young player can expect and what sort of learning environments are available. In part II of this series we will examine the process of choosing the right camp. Start by gathering information from the camp organizers and build a preliminary list of 4-6 camps that sound like they would be a good fit for your needs and desires. Once you have given a preliminary review of your camp options, it is time to start digging into the camps themselves.
The key to picking a tennis camp that will be most beneficial and rewarding for your young player is by reaching out to the camps that interest you and asking a few questions to help clarify what to expect by attending a particular camp. Once you ask these questions and evaluate the answers, you will begin to see differences in each and every camp.
A few key questions to research when examining your tennis camp options are:
1. Overnight v. Day camp:
As we mentioned in part I, the first thing you must ask yourself is what type of camp are you looking for. Do you want an all-inclusive overnight camp, or prefer a day camp held close to home. With an overnight camp, you will be afforded many more options than a day camp, but the costs do rise significantly between the two.
Key Questions to Ask:
– Overnight or Day camp?
– Overnight Camp: How far away from home for the overnight camp?
50 miles, 100 miles, 500 miles?
– Overnight Camp: Does the camp provide transportation, or must you arrange transportation from airports and train stations?
– Day Camp: Is the camp full-day or half-day?
– Day Camp: Are there arrangements for early arrival or late departure?
2. Longevity of the Camp and experience of the director:
As mentioned in part I, one of the most important factors in a successful tennis camp is the experience of the camp director and the longevity of the camp itself. If the camp has been in business for a few years, you can feel more assured that thec amp has been a success in the past. In addition more experienced directors know the importance of staff training, full day curriculums and the balance of training, fun and safety. Less experienced directors may over value one of these areas and this could restrict the success of the camp and the camper’s experience overall.
– How long has the camp director been involved in running camps?
– Does the director have an overall camp philosophy?
– Is the director involved in the day-to-day activities at camp, or do they just set the camp up and leave it to be run by others?
– What experience does the director have working with kids this age?
– What experience does the director have working with players of a variety of experience and skill levels?
– How long has the camp been held?
– Do you have references (parents and families) that are available to speak of their experience with your camp?
3. Staff Ratio:
Staff to Camp ratio is an important factor in choosing a camp. Typically an experienced tennis camp will have a ratio between 4-6 campers per
staff member. The smaller the ratio, the more personal attention you can expect from the staff as a whole. Some camps may put too many kids on each court and this will inhibit the learning experience.
Tennis camp can vary in price from less than $100 to over a $1000.Pick a budget for your child’s camp and stick to it. No matter what the budget
you have, you should be able to find a camp to help your child’s tennis game.
Key Questions to Ask:
– Is the price for the week or daily?
– What does the cost included? Are there “hidden costs” or incidentals for social activities meals, equipment etc. that need to be planned for?
– Do you offer pro-rated rates if my child cannot attend the full session?
– Why is your camp more expensive than “X” camp? Can you tell me why your camp costs more (or less) than other options. (This is an important question as camps that cost significantly less often feature less experienced staff, equipment, accommodations, etc.)
5. Camp Mission / Philosophy:
Perhaps the most important aspect of a camp is the camp’s mission itself. Is the emphasis on just tennis training or on offering a full camp experience? Is this camp just for fun, or will tennis education be the top priority? Understanding what the camp emphasizes will allow you to choose the best camp for your child.
Key Questions to Ask:
– What is the balance between fun and learning?
– What emphasis is placed on skill development? How do you achieve this?
– How is my child supervised?
– What are the security measures in place to ensure my child is safe?
One final area that can be a great help in researching camps is by talking with those that have attended that camp in the past. By speaking to past campers, friends or family members who have been to a given camp, you will learn more about the overall experience than and glossy brochure or website. If you don’t know any friends that have attended a certain camp, ask the camp office itself if there are past parents of attendees that you would be able to contact should you have any further questions. This option is not available for all camps, but the most experienced camps will be able to point you in the right direction.
Taking your time and doing your research upfront will help you and your child manage expectations leading up and during the tennis camp experience and help ensure that you don’t have unrealistic ideas of what to expect at your chosen tennis camp.