Summer Skate Camp - How to determine which ones can really help?

Every summer, my daughter joins the local rink for competitive skate camp, which has been very good for her. Now that my daughter in higher level (doing double jumps now), we're looking for a more advanced skills summer camp that can REALLY help her improve her skills in 1-2 weeks. How do you find bonafide competitive summer camps? Is it worth while or productive to go to the summer camps far way in California, Colorado or in Canada?

This is a really tough question. I think the first question is whether it's the right time in your skater's development to go to a higher level camp in the summer. Skate Canada has been promoting their Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model which lays out guidelines for how many hours a skater should be training and how many months in the year they should train. I'm guessing by your description that your daughter is probably to the point where year-round training is appropriate but that's a call you, your skater and your coach should make.

Assuming she's going to spend more time training in the summer then we get to the heart of your question, how do you find a camp that is giong to make a difference?

You suggested you're looking for a 1-2 weeks camp experience but that isn't a lot of time, particularly if she's going to go away to a camp and start working with a new coach. I think you may need to be looking at a longer time horizon if you really want to have impact. If that's all you can make happen logistically and financially, then you'll want to really narrow the focus of what she's hoping to acheive in the that time period and look for a coach/camp that can deliver on that. 

Start by talking it over with your coach. You want your coach to be on side with whatever avenue you pursue and a good coach shouldn't feel threatened by some outside help in key areas. The skating community is very small and coaches know coaches. They don't know all the clubs, all the coaches coaches and all the training programs but a good coach is likely familiar with programs running in your general geographic area of the country. Depending on the size of your club and the number of coaches on staff, you might be able to build a unique camp experience for you daughter by having her spend some time with another coach at your own club who has a special expertise. 

Next, talk to higher level skaters (or more likely their parents) at your skating club and find out what they've done in the past and what their experiences are like. Your skater hasn't reached the elite level yet which means that there should be a lot of options that won't require you to be heading off to Colorado, or Detroit, or the frozen north of Canada. 

In addition, talk to your own club and see if they are planning to bring in any outside coaches to run seminars during the summer. High level coaches often go on a bit of a circuit visiting different clubs and doing on-ice seminars for the skaters and coaches at various clubs. Good seminars can have a direct impact on a skater's skills development and can also provide inspiration depending on the presenter. Talk to your coach and/or whoever runs the programming for your club and see what they think. 

If anyone else has thoughts on this topic, please fell free to chime in through the comments.

 

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