Getting The Most Bang For Your Buck From A Hockey Camp

Nick Salen

It’s that time of year when hockey players and their parents will begin the long process of selecting a summer hockey camp. Some families will skim through a few ads looking for something that catches their eye, while others will do hours of homework before finally committing to a camp that works best for them.

There are almost as many factors to consider as there are camps to choose from.

Are we better off with an overnight or a day camp? Should we stick close to home? How about a position-specific camp? Is it worth spending the extra money to get the star power of a camp headlined by an NHL player? How about a camp that offers a variety of activities in addition to hockey?

It’s also important to ask yourself why you’re going to camp. Is it to have a fun week away from home, to learn a few new skills, to get ready for the season or to make some new friends? All are great reasons.

The choices are endless, but finding a camp that fits your wish list and your pocketbook is often key in getting the biggest bang for your buck, says ADM Regional Manager Matt Herr.

“I think that parents have to be careful and do their homework,” says Herr, who works with the New York and Atlantic Districts. “There are a lot of really well-run camps, and a lot of poorly-run camps.”

Summer camps are not about being on the ice from dawn to dusk either. Oftentimes summer camps are the first time a child is away from home and bonding with new friends while being encouraged them to try other sports and activities. Being more than a one-dimensional athlete is crucial in a young player’s development.

“It’s important, especially in the 12 & Under age groups, because it’s something we don’t see much of anymore,” Herr says. “You look at our top athletes, whether they’re Olympians or NHL players, they are great athletes. You don’t become a great athlete by just playing one sport… It’s about working on multiple athletic movements, such as balance, coordination, quickness and stamina. There’s a lot of different elements in hockey that you can better yourself in by playing different sports.”

"The choices are endless, but finding a camp that fits your wish list and your pocketbook is often key"

In the end, the choice comes down to not just what is best for the kid, but what works best for the parents. Overall, it is a two-way street for the family, making sure it’s fun for the kids, but that it’s a good fit for the parents’ budget and schedule.

“When you start to get into the overnight camps, obviously the prices will go up,” Herr said. “That’s something parents should keep an eye on. Do I want my kid to be fed or are they there just for hockey and camaraderie?

“It’s like buying a car. There are all kinds of costs associated with the bells and whistles.”

It’s also important to have realistic expectations about how much you’re going to get out a camp. Do not expect that one week at camp will turn your son or daughter an all-star prodigy.

“Hockey camps are great for helping you improve some habits, but overall development is something that’s a longevity process,” Herr says. “It’s not something that happens over the course of a week or two.”



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