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Sports Summer Camp Guide

Everything you need to know about camp for your athlete or sports-lover


Updated April 26, 2012

If you're looking for school vacation options for an athletic kid, sports summer camp might be the perfect option. There are camps for every sport, skill level, and style (maybe not for every budget, but we'll get to that). These programs will keep him busy like any camp would, but spending concentrated time on sports will also build confidence and skills. Here's a rundown on how to choose a camp, prepare your camper in advance, and even pay the bill.

Find the Right Sports Camp

Teen girl soccer team
Barry Austin / Getty Images
There are many options, especially for popular sports like football and soccer, and they run the gamut from a few hours, a few days a week to summer-long resident (aka overnight or sleep-away) camps. Here's how to scope out the offerings and choose the one that's the best fit for your child this season.

Sports Camp Safety

At a sports camp, you have to add the risk of sports injuries to common summer concerns about sun, heat, insects, allergies, and so on. So make sure to check our your chosen camp's safety policies in advance, and check in with your child's doctor for a pre-camp physical.

The Co-Ed Question

This will depend in part on your child's sport and the types of programs that are available, but it's worth considering. Is a co-ed camp right for your tween, or would it be better to find a camp for just boys or just girls?

Schedule Your Summer

How does sports summer camp fit in with the big picture—all those weeks from the last day of school to the first? Also see special tips for creating structure for your child with ADHD.

12 Ways to Lower Summer Camp Costs

Get the lowdown on scholarships and payment plans as well as discounts for siblings, early birds and online registration. You can also try bargaining with the camp, bartering for services, or even scouting out a free summer program. Plus, remember that you may be able to use funds in your dependent care flexible spending account to cover camp tuition.

Sports Camp Packing List

Get a jump on filling that trunk (okay, giant duffel bag) with this list of suggested necessities and nice-to-haves for sports camp. Got your labeling pen handy? Hint: Use just your last name for items that can be handed down to a younger sibling.

Help Your Teen Get a Summer Camp Job

If your teenager has lots of experience with a particular sport, and a good rapport with younger kids, he might be a great candidate for a job at a sports summer camp. Did you know there are options other than "counselor"?

Dealing with Homesickness at Sports Camp

Even a kid who seems super-confident may sometimes feel homesick, especially given the competitiveness and physical demands that sports camp can entail. But advance preparation will help your child enjoy his stay at summer camp. You want him to miss you—but not too much.

How to Make a Care Package

Surprise your camper with a small package of goodies while she's away at camp. I'd add sports accessories and sports-themed doodads (pencils, socks, keychains) to this list of suggestions for care package gifts.

While the Campers Are Away

What will you do with your sweet, sweet freedom while your kids are at camp? Here are 6 options that might help you stay busy enough to keep from missing your campers (almost).
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