Top 10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Tennis Camp
It’s almost spring and in a few months it will finally be summer -- time for swimming, playing and, if you’re lucky, tennis camp. But, with so many to pick from, how do you choose the right camp? What should you look for when deciding where to send your child? Are most tennis camps even worth the money?

Before you even look at this list keep in mind that the most important thing is that your child has fun. If you want to encourage tennis as a way of life, then the first step is to provide your child with the best experience possible.

Top 10 things to consider when choosing a tennis camp:
1. Personal recommendations. First, ask your friends and family members for recommendations. You should start with people you know, especially people you trust and have things that you share in common.

2. Intensity. Figure out how much you can handle. If you aren't in peak physical shape you may want to start with a weekend camp and work into longer stays. But, if you are looking for something high intensity to really push yourself with, there is definitely a camp for that. Ask how many hours you will spend on the court and what you are expected to do during your off time? Some camps expect you to perform drills and do exercises to build your endurance during your off court hours. So it basically comes down to this: do you want a hardcore camp with hours on the court? Or would you like a more relaxing experience?

3. Location. You need to consider where the camp is located. Climate is important, after all, there is a huge difference between Georgia heat and Arizona heat, Chicago summers and summers in Maine. It’s really important that you choose a climate that you can stand. A place that is too hot or muggy may make playing tennis uncomfortable and much less enjoyable.

4. Accommodations. Even the most devout tennis player needs more than a good court, you also need a good bed. Do you want a camp that provides food and accommodations? A camp that offers meals might be a great way for you to make friends. Besides eating and sleep, what other things do you need? Make sure that the camps offers everything you could possibly want. Just because it’s tennis camp you still need to look at the basics: accommodations, counselors, food, and more.

5. Family. Are you taking someone with you? Some parents have to bring their young children. Others bring their husbands or partners. Does the camp have other activities for non-tennis players who may be accompanying you? Do they offer child care? Or maybe it’s in an area with things for your family to do while you work on your game. You will probably have a better experience if those around you are also having a good time.

6. Friends. Do you want a more social experience? Are you looking to make friends? To find new tennis buddies? Or do you simply want to develop a killer backhand? If you want to find people you can see again you should probably look for a place close to home. Some camps are much more social than others.

7. Attention. Do you want or need more personal attention? Or do you want more people to play with? The more people attending, the more likely it will that you will find someone else at your level. Before you sign up you can ask how many people at your level are already committed. When choosing a camp for your child, one of the more important things to look at is the student to staff ratio to make sure your child get as much attention as they need.

8. History. How long has the camp been around? What is the camps track record? Does the staff have experience, both with tennis and being a camp counselor? Can they supervise your child? Can you take a look at the staff credentials?

9. Activities. Does the camp offer tennis only or a variety of activities, not just for your family but for you, or your child, as well? Some people, especially children, can only take so much of one thing. Some kids simply do better with more variety. When I was young I attended YMCA Camp Letts which offered many choices. You could choose three different activities a day for two weeks, activities including sailing, archery, water skiing, horseback riding and more. Or you could sign up for exclusive camps, for example, all water skiing all the time. When I was young I enjoyed the variety, but as I got older I discovered I only really wanted to do and concentrate on one thing. Ask your child and really listen to his or her response.

10. Instruction. Do they offer the level your child needs? Obviously, beginners need to concentrate on fundamentals, while more advanced players don't. Does the camp offer instruction or just a place to play? You want to be sure that no matter what level your child is at he or she will get the necessary instruction without feeling like he is holding up the rest of the camp. Keep in mind, if your child is truly advanced he or she might need a specialty program that isn't offered at regular tennis camps.

If you are sending your child off to camp by him or herself consider how far the camp is from your home. If something happens will you be able to get to him or her quickly? How does the camp deal with homesickness? What happens if your child gets into trouble? It’s a good idea to ask all of these questions before you sign up. After all, a good experience at a tennis camp can keep your child happily playing for many years to come.

Shameless Plug. Check out the Holabird Sports Tennis Camp at UMBC powered by Babolat. Discounts available for registering before May 1.