How do I choose the best basketball summer camps for my child?
This is a question lots of folks ask.
If you're in the process of looking for boys and girls basketball camps, you might be a bit overwhelmed at all of your choices, or you might be unsure of what exactly you're looking for.
To help you wade through your options, I've compiled a list of 15 items you need to think about.
By identifying which features are most important to you, you can find a camp that’s the best fit for your child and one that will provide an experience that meets your expectations.
Find youth basketball summer camps near you
As far as day basketball camps go, you have a choice between half-day camps and full-day camps lasting anywhere from 3 to 8 hours a day. The focus in these camps is usually 100% basketball.
There are also overnight camps in which campers spend the night in on-campus facilities. Overnight summer basketball camps often provide non-basketball recreational or social activities as well.
Overnight camps can be tough for kids who have never slept away from home before. Also, when campers stay up late they get pretty tired when they hit the court early in the morning, especially by the end of the week.
Overnight camps also tend to be more expensive because you have to factor in meals and lodging.
Basketball summer camps generally last from 3 days to a maximum of 5 days. If your child is really young or trying out camp for the first time, a shorter camp might be all she needs.
I have found with new players it's better to leave them wanting for more than to have them jump in too deep when they're not ready.
Typically, camps are held at high school basketball gyms, colleges, and community centers like your local YMCA.
It's important that campers have access to enough courts and baskets to accommodate the number of campers.
It's no fun for players to spend a lot of time waiting in line before they get a chance to shoot. And the more time they're standing around, the less time they're playing.
It also helps if the facilities are air-conditioned. I've played in some old gyms that got pretty hot in the middle of summer!
A ratio of 10 players to each coach is pretty good and allows players to receive plenty of 1-on-1 help. One of the disadvantages of the much larger boys and girls basketball camps is that campers can get lost in the crowd. Some of the smaller, local camps for kids can provide more individual attention.
This is particularly a factor with overnight basketball summer camps. Some camps focus completely on basketball. Aside from taking time out for eating, drinking, and sleeping, 100% of the activities are geared toward basketball.
If that sounds a little intense for you, you might want to select a camp that includes times for other activities like swimming, movie nights, Bible studies, etc.
It's really difficult to say what you can expect to pay for youth basketball camps because the cost depends on so many variables.
At one end of the spectrum, there are prestigious overnight camps held at the finest facilities and taught be world-renowned coaches. They can charge a premium for their camps, and you could easily expect to pay several hundred dollars.
On the other hand, local high school camps tend to be the cheapest options and often provide the most "bang for the buck." Day camps are usually cheaper than overnight camps because meals and housing are not provided.
Sometimes summer basketball camps provide discounts for family members or team members.
Most basketball summer camps are all-around camps that introduce the players to a wide variety of skills.
There are others that focus on specific aspects of the game, like basketball shooting camps, position camps, or offensive skill camps.
Team camps are another type in which you attend camp with members of your school or club team and spend most of your playing time with them.
Some camps divide players into teams for the duration of camp and provide opportunities each day for players to go up and down the court in 5-on-5 full-court games.
Some camps organize daily games pitting campers against the coaches and counselors. Other camps don't play 5-on-5 games at all.
Just keep in mind the more time that is spent watching others play is less time you actually get to spend with the ball in your hands improving your skills. 1-on-1, 2-on-2, and 3-on-3 type games allow individual players to touch the ball a lot more than 5-on-5 games.
Unless you are way out in a rural area, you can probably choose from quality youth basketball camps right in your own back yard.
If you check with local school districts, colleges, or the local YMCA you may find one right down the road.
There are great camps a few hours away and some across the country. Your camp selection may be determined by its proximity to you.
Some camps provide group insurance that covers the cost of injuries to players during camp. Other camps require players to be responsible for their own medical insurance.
You can find outstanding camps offered at both university and high school campuses. Each one provides boys and girls basketball players a unique opportunity to get to know their coaches and players.
If you hope to make a local high school basketball team, it's a good idea to attend their basketball summer camps and get to know their coaching staff and players.
Are you trying to get noticed by coaches at a particular college?
There's not a better way to get to know a program than to work with their players and coaches in a camp setting. I remember several young players at our college camps who caught the eye of the coaching staff and made their way onto our recruiting database.
Some players hate the thought of playing with members of the opposite sex, while others enjoy it. You can choose between girls basketball camps, camps for boys only, or co-ed camps.
You're likely to find co-ed camps only for the younger ages. Once players reach middle school age, the camps will pretty much be gender-specific.
The really good camps will have a group of coaching professionals (high school or college coaches) provide most of the instruction.
It's common for them to have players from their teams help out with small group instruction and station drills, but the coaches should be visibly present most of the time.
Every camp has its own personality depending on the coaching staff that runs it. Some basketball summer camps will be intense and very structured with strict schedules to maximize every possible minute of playing time.
Others will be much more relaxed and laid back with a lot more down time. You need to find an atmosphere that is most comfortable for you.
All youth basketball camps are organized a little differently. Some will spend a lot of time in mass group instruction while others do a lot of station work with players rotating between coaches and baskets to work on different skills.
Some camps provide opportunities for individual and team competitions, like shooting contests, free throw contests, dribbling contests, etc.
10 things you can do to help your camper get the most out of camp
Hopefully, this list helps give you an idea of what to look for and what to expect from the wide variety of basketball summer camps.
Decide which items from the list are most important and relevant to you and look for camps that best meet those criteria. With all the choices out there, you're sure to find a great fit!
If you're still having trouble, ask other parents. They're always willing to
share the experiences they've had with basketball summer camps for their kids.