August 2, 2017

Choosing The Right Sports Camp For Your Child

5 Things You Need To Know

Sports camps are a great way to keep kids active throughout the summer. Programs tend to involve lots of active outdoor time and provide many benefits including improving kids' confidence and social skills.

There are so many camp options in cities such as Toronto, making it difficult to know which camp is best for your son or daughter. And however tempting it may be to sign up for the first camp you find online, asking a few key questions can make all the difference in your child's summer experience.

Here are six important things to look for that will help you find the right sports camp for your child:

  1. Low student-to-instructor ratio - In most cases, a student-to-instructor ratio of 6:1 or 8:1 is ideal—especially for beginners. This helps to keep the focus on skill development and makes the camp more engaging for students while allowing the instructor to give proper feedback. Keeping kids engaged and active throughout the day is an important quality of any great camp.
  2. Sports specialists who are certified to teach - Look for certifications from recognized institutions and coaches who are trained to teach children. Sports Camps Canada brings in coaches and sports specialists for every camp we offer. For example, at the Nike Tennis Camp in Alberta, kids receive instruction from a certified tennis professional. Certification is governed by the Tennis Professionals Association and a certified instructor has a professional designation of either instructor, club pro, or coach level 1, 2, or 3.
  3. Clearly defined lesson plans and measurable goals - Kids should have fun with sports and be inspired to play their favorite sports for life. To that end, setting goals for kids and having a plan in place for helping them achieve those goals is essential. At most of our summer sports camps in the Greater Toronto Area, we use the SMART acronym: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely goals for each child. Executing an ace serve against an advanced player might not be realistic, but consistently hitting two serves in a row might be. Watching kids achieve this goal and providing support allows each child to improve their confidence and have fun while improving their game.
  4. Progressive levels based on ability and skill - Being around other campers of similar ages and skill levels gives kids more confidence and challenges them, encouraging them to learn and master new skills. We've also noticed they just have more fun when grouped this way!
  5. Downtime, breaks, and non-sports activities - Nonstop focused sports instruction five days a week can overwhelm kids. We want to keep it fun, so it's important that kids have some downtime too. Group games like capture the flag (we do a water balloon version!) and Gaga ball allow kids to let off some steam in a less structured way. Some of our camps in Toronto even take advantage of our beautiful locations with nature hikes and discovery walks, too.

One last word of advice: many camps (including ours) have open house days where you can meet the directors and instructors face to face—it's always a good idea to attend to get a real feel for the camp.