Q&A: Are Exposure Camps Worth The Investment?
Summer is a great time for kids to brush up on their skills and prepare for the upcoming season. The following article addresses a reader’s question regarding the benefits of sending kids to exposure camps and clinics.
Question: Steve asks, what is your take on all the “exposure” camps and clinics that are popping up around the country? Specifically in hockey, there are now camps that promise that college and junior level coaches will be there scouting/looking for players. Are these worth the couple hundred dollars to attend? What expectations should we have if we attend these camps? What other recommendations do you have for helping get more exposure for my son?
Answer: Summer means a little time off from organized hockey, but it does not mean that we stay off the ice completely. Most high school hockey players are bombarded with camp and showcase brochures throughout the hockey season. I strongly recommend that all high school level athletes consider a hockey camp, which can be very beneficial as long as you are aware of a few key points.
An unfortunate bottom line is that most camps and showcases have one purpose; they are a money-maker for the organizers. Coaches and clubs bring in a lot of income through this method. Although we would like to think everyone has good intentions, it’s often not the case. Beware of overpriced camps as they do not necessarily indicate the best training or coaching. Another common misconception is that you will be “discovered” at a camp. Parents and athletes, please pay attention to the next few sentences! Coaches do not scout for players at camps. If college coaches are running the camp, they do not have the time or interest in discovering new talent. If the coach doesn’t know about you beforehand, they will not know about you on your way out!
After considering the two biggest misconceptions of college camps, you can move on to the factors that really matter. High level training is an obvious benefit to a college run camp. There are few other opportunities for a high school athlete to work with a college level coach. You will run new drills, learn new techniques and get some needed repetition with each skill. Hopefully, you will take away an honest evaluation of your abilities as well because many camps give you a written evaluation form. The college coach will help you see your game from a different perspective – in addition to your high school, travel or juniors coach. Lastly, camps keep you in shape during the off-season.
There are essentially two ways you may receive camp information. One, you are someone the coach is recruiting. Two (and much more likely), you are in some type of database or list and the coach has absolutely no idea who you are or your talent level. So based on that information, you will either attend a camp for training purposes or evaluation purposes to assist with your recruiting.
Before you attend a camp for training purposes always do some research on the coaching staff. How much experience do they have? How successful have these coaches been? Do they have a reputation for producing great hockey players? Consider how they actually run the camp as well. Are you with players your age and ability level? Do they run at a fast pace? Are you getting personal attention? You may want to talk to someone who has attended the camp before signing up.
Alternatively, many college coaches use camps as an opportunity to evaluate your hockey abilities in person. For this reason, you could also choose to go to camp at a college or university where the coach is recruiting you. Find out where you are on the recruiting list and how interested are they in you. Is it a realistic fit? You are not likely the only recruit they are inviting to the camp. Be sure that you know this coach is interested before investing your time and money to go.
Showcases can also be a great way to see how you measure up against the top competition. See if the showcase provides a list of where their former participants have gone to college and which college coaches will be in attendance. You want to make sure that there will actually be great competition at the event. If you do attend a showcase it is important that you let coaches know you will be there prior to attending. They will show up to the games with a list of players and you need to make sure your name is on the list. Otherwise, it is very likely that you will be overlooked.
Make an informed and well-thought out decision before you decide on a college camp or showcase. Consider the misconceptions, benefits, and reasons for attending your camp or showcase of choice. Good luck!
Editor’s Note: Thank you to the NCSA for providing an answer to this reader question.
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