Sports day camps are a great way to raise money, offer opportunities for youth development in your community, and to build a better athletic program. Below are step-by-step instructions on how to run a successful day camp.
Step 1: Decide on Camp Dates
Deciding when you are going to run a Summer sports camp is the very first thing you need to do. Some factors you should consider when doing this include:
1. Are any other organizations running a similar camp on that week/day?
2. Is anyone else using the facility you have available on that week/day?
3. Is there a big trend towards family vacations on that week/day?
Step 2: Secure the Facility
Once you have dates for your camp, you need to secure a facility for your camp to take place. These two are pretty interchangeable when running a Summer sports camp, so there will be some back and forth.
Step 3: Get Insurance For Your Camp
If you work for a larger institution such as a high school or college, you may fall under that umbrella. If not, I suggest forming your own LLC and running the camp through that so that in the event of an injury, that can be the named party in any lawsuit. But either way, check out the insurance coverage options and make sure you have significant coverage.
Step 4: Hire Expert Staff
Any camp you run will need to be fully staffed before doing any marketing. If you cannot get a good staff, my advice is to not try to run a Summer sports camp because it will fail miserably. Every successful camp is determined by this factor specifically.
Find people who you trust to coach in your camp. People who are experts in the field and who you have seen coaching.
Hire an athletic training to be present during all sessions of your camp. This will be a big factor in limiting liability and will help you sleep easier at night knowing that if there is an emergency, a trained medical professional is on site to handle it. Aside from you, this person will more than likely be the highest paid person at your camp. Do not skimp in this area.
Step 5: Determine Your Maximum Capacity
Knowing how many campers you can accept will be a big step in the process towards avoiding any liability. There are a couple of things you will need to factor in when determining this number:
1. How many campers to coaches is ideal for safety?
2. How many campers can your facility hold based on safety?
3. At what point do you feel there are negative returns because of too many campers.
Step 6: Design a Daily Schedule of Activities
In order to adequately market your camp, people are going to want to know that the daily plan is for activities. What can they expect?
Here is a sample schedule from a camp:
9am Introductions/ Camp overview
9:15am-12pm Individual skills testing
12pm-1pm Lunch Break
1pm-3pm Break into groups for team skills
3pm Camper Pick Up
9:15am-11am Individual Skills Stations
11am-12pm Group team work
12pm-1pm Lunch Break
1pm-3pm Group Tournament
3pm Camper Pick Up
9am Warm Up
9:15am-11am Individual Skills Training
11am-12pm One on One Tournament
12-1pm Lunch Break
1pm-3pm Team Skills Training
3pm End of Camp/Camper Pick Up
Step 7: Design a Camp Brochure
The design of the camp brochure will include all of the following:
1. Demographic information of the participant (name, address, age, grade in school, phone, e-mail, T-shirt size if giving out t-shirts).
2. Camp entry fee.
3. Health Insurance information of the camper - this is key. Insist that each camper has their own insurance.
4. Emergency contact for each camper.
5. A waiver signed by each parent that says they understand a sports camp can lead to injury.
6. A daily schedule.
7. A bio of the camp director and staff.
8. Photos of the facility that will be used to hold camp.
9. Action photos of campers in action from previous camps.
10. Detailed instructions on how to register for the camp. Some camps have online registrations, some require the campers to mail in entry forms. Be specific. If done online, still have a printable waiver to be filled out and sent in.
Step 8: Promote Your Camp
Send your camp brochure to all coaches in the area so that they can forward it on to their players. Most coaches are looking for opportunities for their players to get more experience. It is also a time for those coaches to evaluate their players prior to any tryout and see them in a different setting and with new teammates.
Step 9: Design a Spreadsheet
Keeping a spreadsheet of all the information on the camp brochure is a necessity. You will want to have sortable columns for all the demographics such as name, age, address, insurance information, and emergency contacts. When camp actually begins, you will need to carry this information with you at all times in case there is an actual emergency.
As part of the spreadsheet, have a budget running of all entry fees collected (revenue). In a separate column, list all expenses for the camp (salaries, supplies, etc.). This will help you determine your break-even point. This is the amount of campers you will need to break even. Every camper over that point will allow you to make a profit.
Step 10: Send Out a Confirmation of Receipt E-Mail
As entry forms come back in by mailing, you will need to send out a confirmation e-mail. In this e-mail, let parents know if there is anything missing and that you will be sending another confirmation a little closer to the start of camp as a reminder and that will include more specific information.
In your spreadsheet, record the necessary information, mark the dates of receipt of the entry form, the date of the confirmation e-mail/letter that is sent, and the check number of the entry fee.
Step 11: Send a Reminder E-Mail a Week Before the Camp
This e-mail should include details about the pick up and drop off locations, contact information for the camp director in case there is a conflict of a specific day of camp, and details on anything the camper should bring (equipment, lunch, drinks, towels if swimming, etc.).
Step 12: Conduct a Staff Meeting
A staff meeting a necessary to make sure that everyone on staff understands the schedule of events and all specific duties and responsibilities that you expect of them. Be very clear on everyone's role and how you expect them to conduct themselves.
Step 13: Setup
The day before the camp, do a walk through of the camp setup to troubleshoot any issues. Inspect all equipment and every inch of the facility. Make contact with the custodial staff and know their availability in case they are needed for any reason.
On each day of the camp, do a walk through to ensure that everything is in order and safe for the campers.
Step 14: Register All Campers
As the camp begins, register all campers and make sure to contact any that are not there for the first day. Have someone in the drop off area to ensure that campers make it from the cars to the facility. Make sure you know where all the campers are who are registered for your camp. Have adequate supervision for them from the minute they walk leave the parking area for camp until the time they get back into their car to leave camp.
Step 15: Administer Camp
Follow your daily schedule to the letter. This is where leaving some generalities in your daily schedule helps such as team training, skills testing, and game play. Very general, but allows you to do some different things. It will help with liability if something should happen, but make sure you are conducting camp activities that fall into the categories of your daily schedule.
Have supervision during any lunch breaks. It is also recommended to have a camper of the day in each group to promote hard work and reward those with strong attitudes.
Step 16: Finish Strong
Finish strong each day with a camp talk and cheer. Ensure supervision of campers as they leave your camp and give lots of pats on the back for good effort and to those who improved their skills. On the final day, thank everyone for attending your camp and be around and available for them.
Lastly, do a final budget and then store all camp materials such as forms and schedules just in case.
Hopefully if you follow these general steps, you can run a successful and lucrative Summer sports camp. And everyone from the participants to the staff will have an enjoyable time.
Anon on October 27, 2016:
Love this post, I've ran camps in the past and am going to start again and needed a refresher. You covered it all!