September/October 2019 - 54

The value of
By Bruce Knittle, contributing writer
When the school year nears its end, an athletic
director's thoughts often turn to their upcoming summer
programs. And sports camps are a significant part of
the offerings.
Not appreciated enough is how valuable these camps
are. What is it about these sports entities that make them
such an important asset to athletic programs? And, how
can athletic directors develop and market their camps?
Operating camps
Camps are a consistent revenue stream for athletic
departments, and schools should consider creating a camp
for each sport. Coaches of every team should be given the
opportunity to run their own camp, which would benefit
their reputation and bring in extra money.
School districts regularly form partnerships with
camp organizations to share the responsibilities. These
organizations bring a wealth of experience running
successful camps. Additionally, schools should consider
having alternative camps at their sites. Some of these
include adult weekends, winter camps and those for nontraditional
sports. Senior age camps also have grown in
popularity.
Whatever type of camps an athletic director oversees,
they need to be certain it's run as a business and treat
the camps as a separate entity. This means ensuring
that the required permits are secured, and all legal and
insurance obligations met. Camps are regulated by the
state in which they reside, and school officials should
contact the appropriate department for all relevant
information.
Besides the regulatory requirements, athletic directors
need to follow all high school or NCAA rules for camps.
Certain sports even have their own set of regulations.
Athletic directors would be wise to have written rules for all
camp directors to follow. Include any directives regarding
marketing, and how to efficiently operate the camp.
54 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019
SPORTS
CAMPS
Local events can increase exposure, revenue for athletic programs
Local support
As you develop a strategic plan for camps, community
involvement is essential. Athletic directors should seek
relationships with community leaders, local businesses
and surrounding schools.
When considering the fees to charge campers, the
school first wants to ensure affordability. Especially for
new camps, the objective is to make the cost reasonable
to parents, and perhaps even discount the price to attract
new campers. Additionally, the school should research
what similar camps in their areas are charging. Competing
camps, some of which have been around for years,
typically have the best idea of what to charge.
One other point to consider when setting rates is
that different sports frequently charge varying rates.
For example, a tennis camp might charge more than a
basketball camp. It's worth considering the required staff
and other expenses before setting camp fees.
Volunteering at events and participating in charitable
programs are a couple of ways to strengthen community
ties. Hosting free clinics in elementary and middle schools
also helps. High school athletic directors usually have
relationships with these schools, and involving them in the
camp process benefits everyone.
When I directed my camps, I would run tournaments
prior to the summer season. It generated a significant
amount of publicity, and goodwill ensued for my camps
and the school. I also volunteered to direct tennis clinics,
which gave interested parties a chance to see our school
and learn about our programs.
Sponsoring events is an additional way of raising
money for your school and promoting sports camps.
Many schools sponsor golf outings, which gives athletic
departments and community members a chance to bond
and socialize.
When high school athletic directors serve on community
boards, or become members of local organizations,

September/October 2019

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