Feb 5, 2014

Choosing a skating camp: types of camps

I was reminded by a fan message on Xanboni Facebook that it's February-- time to sign up for summer camp.

The skating magazines are full of shiny ads and the Lobby Moms are judging you (you know they are-- they question is, do you care?) and your kid wants to go to sleep away skating camp (and soccer camp and eco camp and theater camp, too. What do you mean I can't do all of them?)

How do you choose. I think I need a flow chart for this (where is St. Lidwina when I need her), but here's a list instead.

Day camp or sleep away?
All about cost, really.  The boarding camps are expensive on their own, and astronomical if you add in private lessons, which are not always included-- check the literature. If privates are available with a celebrity coach add a couple of zeros to the cost.

Home rink camp
Most rinks will have a regular programs run and promoted by the rink and staffed by skating school staf. These might be half day or full day; they might incorporate other sports, crafts, community services, etc.

Celebrity Day Camp
If you're in a large metro area, chances are there's a prestige coach running a summer program near you, saving you the boarding cost. This is basically super-home-rink camp (hey, it's someone's home rink), with a premium for the prestige coach. (Who may or may not have all that much face time with your kid. More on that in the next post)

Coach camp
Depending on the rink, "Coach camp"  can be run on regular ice run and promoted by individual coaches, and sometimes restricted to their private lesson students only; or on purchased ice, where those participating have the sessions to themselves. (This happens mostly with high powered coaches, and/or at rinks that don't allow coaches to run their own camps on regular ice.) I ran Xanboni Camp for several years, with 75 minutes of ice, 40 minutes off-ice and an hour of craft or story time. It was a blast.

The cheapest option of course will be the rink camp. Don't let coaches tell you coach camp is cheapest; some will try to disguise the cost by billing you only for the group coaching time upfront-- you'll have to pay for ice and privates separately.

However, it's not only about the cost. So what do you look for in a camp? First, you need to know your goal (as all good readers of Xanboni understand). Here's some reasons to go to skating camp:

Gotta park the kid somewhere
Rink Camp. 'nuff said.

All her friends are doing it
I say this somewhat facetiously, but it's actually a factor. Skating is  hugely social endeavor, more, I think, than team sports, because kids are on their own during practice so much. If all her friends are doing a particular camp, and it's one you can afford, then sure, choose that camp. Just be aware that skating may not be the central motivation!

Summer is a great time to work on a test, a new skill, or a new program. This means you need to choose a camp either with a coach that knows your skater, or one that specifically promotes skill development or testing.

I don't judge. If working around skaters training at a high level, attending the "name" rink, or working with a celebrity coach are important to you, and you can afford it, then go for it. I have never heard anything negative about Little Suzy from Spokane at places like Ice Castles. These programs get good reputations for a reason-- they're good.

If you can honestly say you have a skater on a national trajectory, talk to your coach (TALK TO YOU COACH) about programs where s/he and the coach can meet people-- judges, officials, other skaters, specialty coaches. The coach will know which programs these are, will have preferences for various programs because of the connections s/he already has, etc. Families do sometimes pay some or all of a coach's expenses to basically go to camp with the kid. Check with the program to find out what the arrangements are for guest coaches.

But I'm an adult!
Oh good heavens, save your pennies and go to adult skating camp. There are lots of them, with great adult-sensitive coaching for all level skaters and I universally hear wonderful things about them from friends who have gone.

Next: what to look for in a camp.


  1. You are back!!!! Yay!!

    My son recently returned from Winter Camp and what is now Desert Ice Castle in Cathedral City near Palm Springs. It was just plain old Ice Castle up in Lake Arrowhead until recently. Like last summer, he loved it.

    My goal for a camp was simply to give my son an overnight experience. Both my kids first attended overnight summer camp around the age of 11. My older one choose a math camp. He is that kind of kid. My younger chose, of course, ice skating. Since Grandma pays we have more options than many. (Math camp was more expensive BTW.) It was good for him, he stayed away from home for the first time, had to fend for himself - navigate showering, dealing with forgotten items, speaking up for himself when he needed something, dealing with moody girl teenagers, etc.It was good for me. I had to let him go and be on his own. It was easy for him because he was doing what he loved, skating, and this kept him from feeling homesick. He also came back with some great skills! Unfortunately, he lost a lot of what he learned when he returned.

    Like Xan said in her post, there are some unexpected costs in that the coaching is not included in the weekly price. You choose the coach (different coaches have different costs), you choose the number of sessions per week/day, and you pay the coach directly. The main cost of the camp is for room/board and ice time.

    (Desert) Ice Castle is in flux and when I spoke to them this winter they were not sure where the summer camp will be, but they put on a good camp over the break so I am sure the quality will still be there. I recommend it.

  2. For adults, Lake Placid adult camp has really upped its game. This past summer it was as close to perfect as it could be.

    There were hardly any kids in the kids camp, apparently schools have changed their opening schedules.

  3. The Same AnonymousFebruary 7, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    Glad to see you back!

    We don't have skating camps here (or summer camp in general - summer break is only 6 weeks) but it sounds amazing!