How Sports Organizations Can Successfully Run Summer Camps
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The question most sports organizations get throughout the year is: Are you planning on holding any summer camps? The answer for most successful sports clubs and leagues is typically yes. But, running camps and running successful camps are two very different things.
Summer camps require a long lists of tasks to make them happen. At TeamSnap, we’ve compiled some tips to help your sports organization this summer.
Set the dates
In order to get registrations, you need to allow for proper time to advertise the summer programs. If you select the dates of summer camp well ahead of the actual date, you can allow your organization to plan, prepare, and also interested families to circle the dates on their calendars.
Iron out the details
What are you hoping to accomplish this summer? Do you want to hold a summer camp focused on a specific skill? Do you want to hold a summer camp embodying all parts of the specific sport? Ask yourself these questions before promoting the camp. Most summer camps have a focus; whether that is a camp for a certain position on the field or court, a camp for specific ages and skill-levels, or just a full-day camp with an emphasis on different skills throughout the day. When you are ironing out the details make a decision if you want to hold a full-day camp or a half-day camp. It is possible to run both, but there is a big difference. A full-day camp takes a lot more people to make it happen, from committed staff, trainers, and volunteers.
Create a timeline
Once your date is set and you’ve decided whether you want to run a full-day camp or half-day camp, it’s time to make a timeline. This timeline will be your reference for when to spread the word about the camps, when the emails and social media promotion hits, when to open registration and when to close it. When creating this timeline, it’s a good idea to set monthly goals and avoid specific dates until everything is set in stone.
Here’s an example:
January, 2022 – Decision made to hold summer camps July-August
February, 2022 – Save the date announcement: July & August Summer camps coming soon
March, 2022 – Open summer camp registrations
April, 2022 – Promote through emails, social media, press releases, and club-wide outreach
May, 2022 – Spots are filling up – Reminder emails, sign-up now
May, 2022 – Get staff availability
June, 2022 – Staff camp training/assignments
Finding the right staff and coaches to work your summer camp can make or break the experience. Make sure that you get a sense early on which of your coaches throughout the year would be interested in working the summer camps. Including your current staff in the summer programming is a great way to keep your coaches united with their players and is attractive for parents because they are familiar faces. When you are looking for new staff to join the team for the summer, be sure to do a thorough hiring process and only hire people that you feel are going to be reliable, a positive asset, and help the young athletes develop and continue to love the game. Take a pulse of your current coaches and get a head count early on who will be around and interested in working over the summer. For an added incentive, give any coach who recommends the camp to a family and the family registers a little bonus.
Before the first day of camp, be sure to set clear expectations with all of the campers and families. If your organization is running a full-day camp, you will want to have a plan for drop-off and pick-up that is as organized as possible. For drop-off, it helps to pick one designated area and have a couple of staff members helping direct the young athletes to their starting spot. For drop-off, it is equally as important to make sure every kid is picked up by a parent or guardian that has been recorded ahead of time. Make sure your staff is just as sharp from the beginning of camp to the end and knows where every camper is going at all times.
Communicate the schedule
This goes for the camp counselors, but for any youth sports organization running a summer camp it is incredibly important that the daily schedule is communicated ahead of time to the coaches. It’s also a good idea to print the daily schedule somewhere on the site so everyone knows when it’s snack time, lunch break, free-time, etc. Overly communicating the rundown of events to your staff is better than a disjointed summer camp. In order for the day to go smoothly, everyone needs to be in sync, following the time blocks, and communicating with one another.
Set rain dates
If your summer camp is outside, it is a good idea to set a rain date in case weather doesn’t cooperate. Even if it rains and you can keep the camp on, be sure to have an area covered nearby where the campers can all go. Communicate the plan to parents ahead of time too. When weather doesn’t going according to plan, there is a typical reaction of chaos. In order to avoid this, plan ahead and let everyone know what you will do if the weather isn’t behaving. This also goes for the pandemic. In the instance of a COVID case or exposure, have a plan that follows the CDC guidelines and the appropriate state mandates. Properly communicate this to families as well.
These are just a few ways to ensure your summer camp runs smoothly. Just like running a successful sports club or league, good communication, a plan, mission statement, and attention to detail will go a long way.