Choosing a Gymnastics Summer Camp

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GymnasticsZone’s 2012 Top 2 Gymnastics Summer Camp Recommendations

After reading about how to choose a gymnastics summer camp in this article you may want to check out our Gymnastics Summer Camp Directory to find the gymnastics summer camp that is right for you.

There are many considerations in choosing a summer gymnastics camp, especially if a gymnast is attending for the first time. Most gymnasts simple attend the gymnastics camp their friends and teammates go to. And there is certainly some validity in making that choice. But if you want to make choices based more on furthering your gymnast’s gymnastics career, we offer you our analysis and research on the subject of choosing a gymnastics camp.

Age for Summer Camps

Most overnight gymnastics camps group participants by age and ability level, ensuring ideal learning and social opportunities to meet new friends. Overnight gymnastics camps typically welcome campers as young as 7 years old and as old as 18. Day camps sometimes take gymnasts as young as four years old.

Range of Summer Camp Prices

Gymnastics summer camp sessions are typically available in 1-week increments. Gymnasts do have the option to attend more weeks with the next most common length of time to be 2 weeks. The cost of each gymnastics summer camp program varies considerably based on what type of camp it is, level of coaching offered, facilities, and the number of training hours offered. Families can expect to spend anywhere from $125 to $350 per week for local gymnastics camps. College and Elite camps tend to run from $350 to $500 per week. Commercial gymnastics camps begin at $445 but most are in the range of $700 to $900 per week.

Additional Summer Camp Travel Costs

The above weekly prices, of course, do not include transportation to and from the summer camp, which can be considerable if your gymnast must fly to attend the camp.

The Different Types of Gymnastics Summer Camps

There are a number of categories of gymnastics camps, which can and should influence your choice of a summer camp. What type of camp you attend directly affects the kind of gymnastics experience you have and what you get out of the camp.

Elite Gymnastics Summer Camps

There are Elite gymnastics summer camps, which are camps run by coaches, who have developed Olympians, world Champion team members, Elite gymnasts and National team members. The training at these camps is the same training that is given to those kind of high level optional gymnasts. The training your gymnast can receive at these types of camps can be some of the best gymnastics training your gymnast ever receives. Most of these camps are day camps, not overnight camps, and gymnasts often have to find their own lodging. The camps are usually relatively small as they are limited by the size of the gym and coaching staff.

Commercial Gymnastics Summer Camps

The second category, of gymnastics summer camp, is commercial summer camps. These camps typically only operate in the summer with hired and volunteer staff. They have large, well-equipped facilities, additional summer camp activities and are all overnight camps. They also can be problematic for gymnasts who are not self-sufficient, because even if they attend with friends, unless those friends are of the same level of gymnastics, they are often separated from their friends during the training day. These camps have hundreds of participants each week which gives gymnasts a very good sense of different levels of the sport and where the fit in and give gymnasts a real summer camp experience in addition to gymnastics training.

Collegiate Gymnastics Summer Camps

The third category of gymnastics summer camps is college gymnastics camps, hosted on college campuses and making available all of the dorms, cafeterias, swimming pools, staff and training facilities that are available to college gymnasts. College gymnasts have some of the best equipped and staffed training facilities, though not necessarily the largest gyms, and access to professional staff, like trainers, weight training rooms and staff, access to whirlpools, training rooms, physical therapists, etc. For gymnasts interested in college scholarships, attendance at summer camps of college gymnastics programs, in which they are interested in attending, can be a very strategic move.

Local Gymnastics Summer Camps

The fourth category of gymnastics summer camp is local gymnastics camps held at local gym facilities. The staff, and often the attendees, are primarily from the local gym and they use their own gym facility. The primary benefit of this type of summer camp allows gymnasts more hours in the gym than they probably get during the rest of the year’s training season.

Do I Even Want to Go To a Gymnastics Camp?

The first decision to make is whether you even want to go to a summer camp. There are a number of reasons why you might want to just stay and work out in your own gym.

You Should Want to Support Your Local Gym

Summer is often a very slow time in the gym business and they may be counting on your business. You will want to make sure you are participating and pay to go to the summer program in your home gym. Before you spend money outside of your own gym, you should spend it in your own gym first.

Your Coach is Going to Work Harder With Your Gymnast

No summer camp coach is going to be more dedicated to training your gymnast than your own coaches in your home gym. The more successful your gymnast is, the more successful the coach and the gym are. Coaches at gymnastics camps usually have their own agenda and their own gymnasts.

Gymnasts are Not Going to Make Huge Progress in Only One Week

While it is possible that a different coach and coaching perspective may give a small boost to a gymnast’s progress, one week of camp or so is not going to have a long- lasting training effect. Your gymnast’s progress really depends on the year-round training they receive from your own coaches.

Why You Might Choose to Go to Gymnastics Camp

Gymnastics Camps Can Provide Things That Are Not Available At Your Gym

Camps let gymnasts see the reality of where they really stand overall in the gymnastic world. Big commercial camps draw large numbers and a wide variety of gymnasts from all over. Gymnasts can really get a feeling for where they truly stand in the sport in comparison to all the gymnasts at their own level and at the higher optional levels.

Chance To Meet Gymnastics Stars

Large commercial gymnastic camps and Elite Gymnastics Summer camps frequently have nationally known coaches and gymnasts in attendance. Visits from former Olympians and World Championship team members are common at the commercial camps. There is usually plenty of time to get pictures with them and autographs from them.

The Latest and Greatest

Commercial gymnastics camps usually have multiple sets of all the latest training equipment, which may or may not be available in your own gym. Pits, trampolines, tumble tramps, bungee systems and all of the latest gymnastics training equipment is available at the large commercial gymnastics summer camps.

Gymnastics Camp Gives Your Gymnast the Summer Camp Experience

A commercial gymnastic camp provides a real summer camp experience for your gymnast, including all of the social aspects of going meeting new people, making new friends and taking part in traditional general summer camp activities, like boating, horseback riding, jet skiing, campfires and swimming.

Should You Do It?

So is it worth it? If you have already supported your own gym’s summer training programs, then some type of gymnastics summer camp can be a welcome change for your gymnast and give them a whole new perspective on gymnastics and new motivation to excel.

What Type of Gymnastics Summer Camp Is Best For You?

A Gymnastics Summer Camp Category to Avoid

General Summer Camps with Gymnastics Program

Let’s eliminate one type of summer camp for truly serious team level gymnasts right away. This category is regular summer camps that also happen to have a gymnastics program. The problem is that these types of camps rarely have the coaching and equipment for team level gymnasts. The coaching and equipment may even be substandard for gymnasts to try to train their normal competitive skills. Parents or gymnasts may have other reasons for wanting to attend this type of camp, but from a gymnastics training perspective they are not likely to be worth considering.

Pros:

  • Traditional Camp Activities

Cons:

  • Relatively Little and Poor Gymnastics Equipment
  • Price
  • Very Uneven Coaching
  • Inexperienced Coaches
  • Little Chance of Learning Much Gymnastics
  • Often Lack of Suitable and Up-to-Date Equipment
  • Usually No Gymnastics Safety Pits

Advice:

  • Only OK for Very Beginner Gymnasts

Elite Gymnastic Summer Camps

As far as categories of gymnastics summer camps go, the Elite gymnastics summer camp category is #1 on our list. This is the choice I would make for my daughter or gymnasts.

Programs That Are Currently Producing Elite Gymnasts

This category of camp is based out of gyms that are currently training Elite level gymnasts. There are only a limited few gyms in the country that are currently training gymnasts at the Elite level. These summer camps tend to be smaller and the camp format tends to be more like just allowing camp gymnasts to train with or beside the current team. That the camp is small is actually a tremendous benefit since each camp has the chance to get more attention from the high level coaches.

Unfortunately, one of the real problems with Elite summer camp programs is that the Elite competition season is in full swing, the biggest meets of the year are happening or coming up early in the fall. Elite coaches have to be concerned with preparing their own Elite athletes for those competitions throughout the summer and for big upcoming meets like World Championships or the Olympics. Some Elite gyms do not run summer camps or run them for a very limited time for that very reason.

Even if an Elite gym does not run and official summer camp, it may be possible to arrange for and pay to attend their regular team practice for period of time in the summer. You would have to contact the gym and make individual arrangements for your gymnast to participate in their regular practices. Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone about this because if too many people do it, Elite programs might be overwhelmed and stop doing it. An example of this is Chow’s Gymnastics (Shawn Johnson’s gym), which actually spells out how they handle this on their web site.

Pros:

  • Gymnasts Will See and Receive Olympic Level Coaching Every Day
  • Gymnasts Will Work Alongside National/TOP/Elite Champion Gymnasts
  • May Meet Olympic or world Champion gymnasts
  • Gymnasts Will Learn What It is To Train Like an Elite
  • Gymnasts Will be Taught and Learn New Skills
  • Top Level Coaches Will Work to Improve Your Gymnast’s Skills and Routines
  • Your Gymnast Will Begin to Build a Network of Friends in the Upper Levels of the Sport
  • Chance to Work in Same Practice with High Level Optional Gymnasts in Elite Program
  • Make New Gym Friends
  • Fully Equipped Facility
  • Take Home New Training Methods
  • Gymnasts See Where They Really Stand
  • Can Get Floor and Beam Routine Choreographed at Same Time
  • Superior Gymnastics Demonstrators

Cons:

  • Non-Resident Day Camp
  • One Week is a Short Time to Learn Much
  • Few Significant Other Camp Activities
  • Must Arrange Own Housing
  • Probably at Least One Parent Must Come and Stay with the Gymnast
  • May be Coaching Conflicts with Training for Elite Competition Season
  • Camp and Camp Advertising Held Up by Whether Gymnasts Make Elite Meets

Advice:

  • Should have team gymnastics experience already
  • Plan activities for family in the Mesa/Phoenix area before you come

Commercial Gymnastics Summer Camps

Commercial gymnastics summer camps are typically owned and operated only for the purpose of making money from operating a large summer camp. Large commercial gymnastics summer camps are probably the most profitable gymnastics business venture in the gymnastics industry, especially considering they are operated only during the few months of the summer.

There are good reasons to attend commercial gymnastics summers camps and an increasing number of gymnasts do attend each summer. As far as categories of gymnastics summer camps we recommend, this category is #2 on our list.

Pros:

  • Relatively Good Chance to Meet a Real Olympic or World Champion Gymnast
  • Other Camp Activities
  • Make New Gym Friends
  • The Latest and Best Equipment
  • Take Home New Training Methods
  • Gymnasts See Where They Really Stand

Cons:

  • Generally the Highest Prices for Summer Camp Experience
  • Uneven Coaching
  • Some Relatively Inexperienced College Student Coaches
  • Superior Gymnastics Demonstrators
  • One Week is a Short Time to Learn Much
  • Easy to Get Lost (Gymnastically) in Large Program

Advice:

  • Should go with friend or be socially outgoing
  • Should have had some gymnastics experience already
  • 1st and Last Sessions May be Cheaper

Collegiate Gymnastics Summer Camps

Many college gymnastic programs run summer camps to provide income for their college gymnastics program and gymnasts. College gymnastics facilities are among the most well-equipped, professional facilities available for gymnastics training as they have superior auxiliary sports training facilities, equipment and staff available that commercial and private gymnastics almost never have.

There are numerous reasons to attend collegiate gymnastics summers camps. As far as categories of gymnastics summer camps we recommend, this category is #3 on our list.

Pros:

  • Great Way to Make Contacts for College Scholarships
  • Make New Gym Friends
  • Relatively Small Facilities for Camp Gym
  • Good Gymnastics Demonstrators
  • Take Home New Training Methods
  • Attractive Campus
  • Exceptional Support and Training Facility
  • Reasonable Prices
  • Gymnasts Can Support Collegiate Gymnastics
  • Excellent College Facilities and Services
  • Extra college campus activities are available, like swimming pools and college cafeterias and snack bars.

Cons:

  • Relatively Inexperienced College Student Coaches
  • One Week is a Short Time to Learn Much

Advice:

  • Should go with friend or be socially outgoing
  • Should have had some gymnastics experience already
  • Attend three or four college summer gymnastics camps in the years before high school graduation that are athletic scholarship potentials.

Local Gymnastics Summer Day Camp

Local gymnastics camps are run by private gymnastics clubs, often to generate income during the lower income summer months. There is a tremendous range of quality and variety in these types of summer camp programs. Some programs are only designed to give a little more gymnastics to their own students. Others run extensive programs, with additional non-gymnastics activities, like arts and crafts, field trips and even swimming pools.

Gymnasts from other gyms and teams rarely attend the gymnastics camps of other gyms in their area, although occasionally individual gymnasts do attend gyms with better teams and facilities. Parents may drive to a distant local gymnastics camp at a better gym for a week in the summer that they can’t or don’t want to drive to all year long because of the distances involved.

It is a good idea to support and attend your own gym’s summer camps because that extra income input will help improve the quality of experience your gymnast receives year-round.

Pros:

  • Extra workout time during the camp period
  • Prices are usually less than the other types of summer camps

Cons:

  • Potential jealousy problems with highly competitive rival gyms or coaches

Advice:

  • Should go with friend
  • Should have a good gymnastics reason for attending rival gym camp

Now that you have read all about how to choose a gymnastics summer camp you may want to check out our Gymnastics Summer Camp Directory.

GymnasticsZone’s 2012 Top 2 Gymnastics Summer Camp Recommendations

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8 Responses to “Choosing a Gymnastics Summer Camp”

  1. Ginger April 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    What a great breakdown to help families figure out the right choice for them! There is so much pressure these days for kids to do everything and I really like the way you focus on supporting your own gym and coach although I also agree it is good to get out and experience other styles. Growing up I used to attend week long sport camps at different colleges and I found it exciting to be in that environment and to meet people outside of my hometown. Hopefully there is a way that people can find a balance and include both experiences as they work on improving their skills!

    • Coach Howard April 6, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

      Thanks for your comment and compliments. I also enjoyed the fun and adventures of camps in my youth. You have correctly brought more attention to the importance and need to provide balanced gymnastics experiences for gymnasts in both their own gym and them enjoying a wide variety of outside gymnastics experiences to broaden their gymnastics horizons and give them a better perspective on their gymnastics and their life. Thanks again for your interest and contribution.

  2. Burlington Day Camps April 20, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Great photo. It seems like a gymnastics camp may be able to instill a good sense of sportsmanship and provide a very fun experience for kids of various ages. Good post.

  3. gymnastics November 8, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    I will right away grab your rss as I can’t find it in your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly permit me to get it so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  4. harley ogilvy November 22, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    fantastic post up, very informative. I wonder why the other
    specialists in this industry sector do not notice this.
    You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

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