Choosing a Specialty Sports or Adventure Camp

For more tips on choosing a sports camp, visit Sports Camps 101.

If you're thinking about signing up for specialty sports or coaching camp this summer--or maybe you know a young adult or teen who is interested--here are some important considerations to think about before making the choice.

Over the years of running a mountain biking specialty camp for teens and several for adults, I've come to recognize several important factors and questions that should be taken into consideration prior to making that final decision.

The following questions and factors will help you as you consider the value of a specialty sports camp, whatever sport it is.

Compatibility

First up: How does the camp offering match up with your interest or goals in the sport? Does your level of interest or fitness in the particular sport match up with what the camp offers? How much time have you given to this sport already? You want to be sure that the camp is ready for where you are in your development.

Are they set up for a hardcore devotee? Or if you're new to the sport but have that early enthusiasm, can they offer you a beginner level or will you be thrown in way over your head and possibly be discouraged from continuing?

Questions of fitness and stamina should be on your mind. How intense is the daily schedule? Are you interested in some down time during the camp? Is there easy access to other activities? Maybe you want to take a swim or a run or walk during your day.

Is nutrition a consideration? Will the food served be able to meet your minimum requirements? What about physical safety: Are there knowledgeable staffers, or on-hand medical personnel, who are able to monitor potential medical issues like heatstroke, overexertion or more serious conditions?

Indicators of Compatibility

Only you will know for yourself how interested or committed you are to the sport. But ask yourself: Are you always interested in the latest magazine information or new gear or recent studies about the sport? Do you run or bike or do the sport on a daily basis?

This is important, especially when you're helping a teen decide on a camp. Let's say, for example, that they are thinking of attending a biking camp: Do they ride everyday or quite often? Are they interested in racing? Are they reading the mags about gear, bikes, etc.? If they do not ride much, or read the mags, a biking-intensive camp may not be a good choice.

But on the other hand, if they are very active, in fairly decent shape, have done some riding and show great enthusiasm, such a camp could really get them going.

Other questions: How much gear or equipment will you need to purchase prior to attending, or do you have the right stuff already? Does the camp need to be coed or not?

When it comes to assisting teens, it is not always cut-and-dry, so get a feel for what your young person would be interested in by asking all these questions.

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