I just got off the phone with a friend of mine regarding summer camp. She was torn about what camp would be best for her daughter. So I thought I give my thoughts on how to choose a camp. Now remember I believe no player at any level is too good for camp.
Before the days of AAU, players went to camp all summer. It was back in the day when college coaches of all levels could work camp. It was not a surprise to see a Rick Pinto or John Calipari, working a camp. Those days are gone because of the recruiting edge coaches got from working camps. The NCAA does not allow coaches at certain levels to work camp anymore. I believe it has made picking a camp tricky business these days. Picking the right camp is easy if you do your homework and think clearly.
I believe the first thing one has to consider when picking a camp is what is the talent level of the child. Many kids who experience camp are there for reason that sometimes has nothing to do with basketball. Camps are a great way for kids to gain self -esteem and build confidence. Nothing gives a child more confidence that learning a new skill set or improving at their own pace. Meeting new friends and learning how to interact with different people outside their inner circle again is priceless. Many camps offer these things and a great learning environment. I love these type camps for kids, who are looking for that balancing act of basketball and fun.
If your child is advanced and hopes to play in high school or even college one day. They should look for a camp that is both a teaching and competitive camp. These camps will give a athlete a chance to work on skills sets but also give them a measuring stick of where they stand against other kids in there 1-4 year age range. I always say it not good enough to be good for your age. High School and college basketball has a 4 year age gap. The measuring stick is how you match up within that age group.
Next I believe picking a camp that works on specific skills sets is one of the most valuable things a kid can do. The Ball handling/ Shooting camp at Hoop Group for example, I believe is one of the best camps anywhere PERIOD. I am always amazed by anyone that knows of this camp and misses it. Hell I tell college kids this is a camp they should attend. Camps like this one are priceless because they deal with of core of what basketball is about. Knowing which skills sets your child needs to improve on is important when choosing a camp. I know of no player for example who doesn’t need work on these two skill sets.
Next their are camps that I call highly competitive. These are camps that almost all the kids hope too or expect to play at some college level. These are camps where basketball is the number one priority for kids. These camps are not for the kid learning basketball for the first time. These camps are for the most part a place where kids are trying to elevate not only their skill sets but reputations as well. NBS camp no question for example falls into this category. Its a camp that everyone is expected to grind regardless of their ability. This camp is not everyone, but for those who are looking for a highly competitive summer experience I say its for you. Camps like NBS and others serve as a real eye opener for some kids and parents. Its a good way for those who expect to play at a higher level to understand the work that goes into such expectations.
Next there is the Political element that always hovers over kids hoping to play in High School. High School camps serve the all important purpose of a kid getting to meet and learn from their future coach. But the competition and skill level in these camps are very deep. But getting to know you future High School coach is very important. Not attending these camps could put you behind the eight ball. Knowing your high school coach and developing a relationship with that coach in many cases gives a child a real edge. I believe every kid should ATTEND A WEEK OF THERE LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL COACHES CAMP.
Finally I believe any camp a child attends, must have life lessons taught. There must be conversations about education, respect, work ethic and friendship. In the end I say pick a camp that works best for your child, but remember getting better is always the most important thing…IF YOU WANT A FUTURE IN OUR SPORT.