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Are college camps worth the money?

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Are college camps a money maker for the college, or an opportunity for you to get recruited? It depends, so let's discuss it.

The short version - colleges are running camps to make money, but they are also finding recruits from a small percentage of camp attendees.

Types of college sports camps

We can break camps into two high-level categories - those for high school ages and those for younger ages. Sending your elementary-age child to an athletic camp at a college can make for a fun experience. Sports should be fun, especially at that age! Make no mistake, those camps are money makers for the college, and the college coaches may make only a brief appearance. No matter how talented you may think your child is, they are not going to be recruited as a 10 or 12-year-old.

When you get to high school age groups, camps are still a money maker for colleges. However, they also provide an environment for the college to evaluate potential recruits in person. As such, attending a camp at this age can help you get recruited. Some of these camps will even have the title of "ID Camp".

There will typically be more athletes at a camp than the college can evaluate, so you need to have a strategy for making the most of your investment in time and money.


Do I need to attend camps at schools I am interested in?

Decision

We know camps can help you get recruited. Does this mean you have to attend a camp to be recruited? Many serious and competitive athletes are in the category of being good but also competing for college roster spots against many other similar athletes.

While you do not need to attend a camp to be recruited, going to a college camp shows the school that you are interested in them and certainly helps you stand out compared to athletes that do not attend a camp.

A camp also lets you look at the college campus and coaches - you will get to evaluate the college just as much as they are evaluating you! Camps can be a large investment in time and money, so narrow your focus if those things are a concern. Look at our Recruiting101 guide where we talk about identifying schools that may be a good fit, to help determine which camps make sense for you.


I received a camp invite via email - are they interested?

Maybe. The reality is colleges send out a lot of emails to advertise their camps. Once you attend a few camps, you may find yourself on the mailing list for many others. If you play in an event that many colleges come to watch, some may send camp emails to everyone on your team! On the other hand, if you are too young for direct communication, sending an email about a camp may be the only thing a college can do to show interest. Evaluate camp invite emails as you would evaluate attending that camp without having received an email.

If you are interested in a school and it makes financial sense for you to attend the camp, then attend mainly for those reasons - not because they sent you an email.


Standing out before a camp

We have established that there will likely be more athletes attending a camp than the coaches can pay attention to, so how do you get them to notice you? The first step is to make sure they know you are coming. A great way to do this is to have your Club or HS coach reach out to the college coach ahead of the camp. You can also reach out to the college coach yourself via email or some other social media channel - even if you are not old enough for them to reply.

Share your SportProspect online profile along with a brief introduction and why you are interested in their school before attending a camp.


Making a name for yourself at a camp

Name Tag

The camp has arrived, it is time to show them who you are! You should think of a camp as being similar to a tryout. You have limited time to show them who you are as an athlete and a person.

Your goal is for the coaches at the camp to know you by name, not by the number on your camp shirt.

Look coaches in the eyes and answer confidently when they talk to you. Be positive and supportive to the other athletes at the camp - coaches are watching even on a break. Think about your athletic skills, and find a way to demonstrate them. If you are fast, find situations during competition to use your speed. If you excel at a particular position, make sure you get a chance to play that position. There will be others at the camp that want to show who they are as well, so you may need to negotiate time at a position with them - be polite, but stand up for yourself and do not let another athlete dictate how your camp experience goes.


Follow up after a camp

If you enjoyed the camp and school setting, send a follow-up email after the event to let them know. A short email after the camp provides another touchpoint and an opportunity to share the details of when they can see you in compete in person again.