A Parent’s Guide to Sports Camp

By Heather from RookieMoms.com

Zamzee gets ready for sports camp

The Olympics have been going full-swing for a week now. And as I’m watching these amazing athletes, I’m just wondering: what’s it like being the parent of an Olympian? How do they coordinate things like carpool and equipment for sports practice – for years and years and years?

I’ve signed my son up for sports camp this year in hopes that he’ll burn off tons of energy each day and come home with that good, tired feeling. If he develops proficiency (or even excellence!) in a sport that becomes a long-term passion for him, well that’s a bonus. This is the second year I’ve enrolled him in this particular program which includes eight sports in a single day (!), and here’s what I’ve learned. Whether you’re sending your child off for a day of soccer, gymnastics, tennis or all three, here are some things to remember:

  1. Water. Every morning, I fill a sports bottle for Holden. He gets frequent water breaks but the line at the water fountain is long– too long, he reports, to adequately hydrate. For the car trip home, I sometimes bring a spray mist bottle if it’s been a very hot day. I can spritz him right in the face.  (Quirky tip: I recently learned that my son prefers drinking from a SQUIRT GUN. Would that work for your kid?)
  2. Sunscreen. I often have to beg and bribe to get a thick coat of sunscreen on his face, neck, and arms in the morning but at least I know he’s wearing it. We pack a labeled-with-sharpie tube in the backpack for a reapplication around lunch. I only hope the counselors have better luck than I do getting it on him. A hat can help shield rays too.
  3. Cheap towel. At the beginning of last summer, I’m sure I picked out a very special beach towel for use on swim/beach days. I can’t remember because my kid lost it. Or ruined it. Or both. Find a cheap, thin towel that can fit into backpacks and be replaced without tears. And buy a few of them.
  4. Food. Lunch, snacks, treats? Each camp has different guidelines on meals. I know that my camper is working hard out there and will build up an extra-big appetite. I slip in fruit leather for an afternoon snack because it won’t melt and I know he’ll burn it off. I make sure he knows that anything more perishable is reserved for the morning snack.
  5. Apres-game shoes. For this sports camp, we need to remember cleats, sneakers, and bare feet (at least that one’s easy!). For the ride home, a pair of flip-flops or Crocs is a foot-saver in the car. Those active feet get sweaty and nasty so I like to pack a plastic bag in his backpack to keep things neater which brings me to…
  6. Extra bag. On swim days, I pack a bag for wet stuff. On lacrosse and soccer days, we use the bag for yucky shoes. Plastic or reusable is fine (depending on how forgetful your camper tends to be). Sorry to say that my son requires a disposable bag. And towel (see above). Sigh…
  7. Gear. What other gear do you need to provide? For us, it’s just swim suit and goggles (and all that other stuff above). Go grab it
  8. On deck area. I created “on deck” spot in my house for outbound gear and inbound messy stuff. My camper is responsible for putting his nasty, I mean sporty, stuff away and replacing it with fresh stuff for tomorrow. If we use the same staging area, it is easier to remember everything the next day and I can easily see if he’s done it (or if I have to bat clean up).

After all the logistics, I just need to remember to bring my own positive attitude. If sports camp is challenging, the car ride home is the best place for to my kid to open up about highs and lows (because he doesn’t have to look me in the face). I practice listening with empathy and no judgment (or interruptions) to get the most info. I have tried, “Tell me two great things and one terrible thing about camp today” and it sometimes even works!

What tips do you have for Sports Camp parents?

3 thoughts on “A Parent’s Guide to Sports Camp

  1. Pingback: Getting Active: How My Son Became a Football Fanatic | the Zamzee Blog

  2. Great tips! When you get your child enrolled in any kind of sports camp, you too have big responsibility of taking care of your child. You need to look after his/her requirements that may arise as a result of joining the camp. He/she may require new kit altogether. Taking care of your child health is also very significant. You job as a parent is not over by just enrolling your child in a sports camp, you need to take care of your child at each and every step. You may even talk to his/her coach regarding your child performance at regular interval. Evaluating your child performance and letting him/her know weak areas so that he/she can improve upon them.

  3. After a few days most campers realize what they need to make it through the day. Water bottles and afternoon snacks are a must, especially when they are running around like crazy during the day. You don’t want your kids dehydrated and famished all summer long!

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