Athletics used to be the number one participating sport in the U.S. It’s still one of the most popular sports today, but in today’s world it seems like every sport needs a little boost. In our high school we created an athletic camp for middle and high school athletes. The camp is the beginning of the athletic season. This article describes how to organize and run a successful athletic camp.
Our first challenge each year to start our camp is to select a date. We use the camp as a seasonal warm-up, so the camp date is usually just before our season. We also like to have the camp after the state athletic trainers clinic, which is a very large athletic trainers clinic. We do this for two reasons: first to help inspire our coaches before they come to the clinic, second, we have another advertising opportunity at the state athletic trainers clinic itself. Once you have shortened the date, be sure to reserve your facilities well in advance.
The second challenge of our camp is to bring together quality presenters. It’s nice to have a “famous” keystone speaker, but it can be expensive and difficult to program. It is difficult for us to get college coaches just before our season starts, because they are often knee-deep in their indoor season. Our coaches are high school coaches. Our main selection method is simply a ton of research. We like to find coaches who have been successful in the state tournament many times with many different athletes in a particular event. They must have had this success in the last 5-7 years. That keeps the material relatively fresh and usually means that the coach can relate to the current generation of high school athletes. We also invite 2 local athletic trainers. The athletic trainer sessions usually involve general conditioning and strength training. These sessions tend to be the most popular.
Once we locate and contact the coaches we want to present at the clinic, we try to put together our clinical itinerary. Our current camp has 6 sessions of about 45 minutes each. With this in mind, we get our trainers to organize 6 quality sessions. One of the most important parts of each session is the title. Athletes can relate to a particular session through the session title and the trainer. We encourage our coaches to organize “learning by doing” sessions and classroom sessions. It’s hard for athletes to stay mentally sharp when they have too many “learning by doing” sessions.
Once we have all our sessions full and our itinerary ready, we make the camp brochure. With 10-12 coaches in 6 sessions each, athletes have many options. Our brochure includes a page listing all sessions. Students choose the sessions they want in advance and fill them out at the time of registration. This way we can control the session numbers. Since our coaches have recently been successful in the state tournament, athletes often recognize their names, faces, or programs. Therefore, we add to the brochure a biography and a photo of each of our coaches. You will want a parent signature and medical authorization on the enrollment form, as well as a disclaimer.
After the brochure is complete, we email a file to as many track coaches as we can in the area. We also send printed copies to schools near us. We also send 1000 brochures to the state coaches’ clinic to be placed in the coaches’ bags. We also invite the sports vendors. If equipment vendors wish to set up a booth at our camp, we allow it.
At the camp itself, make sure staff arrive early. We have a coach who organizes our cottage, one who organizes our classrooms, one who organizes our concessions, one who takes care of our incoming coaches, and one or two people to pick up and review registrations when athletes show up. Make sure you can give a quality introduction to the clinic for each of your coaches. Once the clinic is up and running, ask someone to look at the clock to measure the time of each session. After that, the clinic should run itself. At the end of the clinic, you should