Running a two-on-three fast break, boxing out a taller opponent and having an awesome time improving skills while meeting new friends just are some of the important things about playing a game – all of which can be learned at a sports camp.
Every summer, a range of camp options abound for children of all ages and backgrounds - and for kids interested in learning or improving athletic skills, there is no shortage of exciting options. Whether your child hopes to be the next pro quarterback, or simply wants to learn how to run a two-on-three fast break, you can find the perfect sports camp experience.
Cracking the bat
Evan Longoria, Josh Hamilton, and Wade Davis are just some of the major league baseball players who have helped run the Hudson Valley Renegades’ baseball camps, which will be celebrating 24 years of teaching fun and fundamentals at Dutchess Stadium this year.
The classic camp, run by the Renegades’ manager, coaching staff and players, is designed for kids age 6-12. Scheduled for 9am to 12pm from Aug. 17-19, a hands-on approach allows campers to familiarize themselves with the basics of baseball while having lots of fun with potential big-league talent. On the final day of camp, kids get to play in a game where their name is announced on the PA system and their picture is shown on the video scoreboard. The cost is $125.
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The Renegades also run a pitcher’s camp for ages 8-14. Former major league pitcher Joe Ausanio and the Renegades pitching coach run the camp with Renegades pitchers, giving young hurlers the chance to improve their mechanics and overall pitching skill. It runs 9am to 12pm from July 11-13 and costs $135.
For more ambitious players hoping to improve all facets of their game, the Renegades offer a full-week camp for kids age 8-14, which runs 9am to 4pm from Aug. 9-12. Mount St. Mary College head baseball coach Steve Sosler, his staff and players set up drills designed to work on specific skills. Campers also play two games each day. The cost is $250.
“There’s no other camp that can have you play in a stadium, learn from pros and have fun at the same time,” said Rick Zolzer, vice president of the Renegades, a farm club of the Tampa Bay Rays. "It's unique to see the players acting like kids again." For more information, log onto the Renegade's website.
For the love of soccer
Eric Watson – whose resume includes assistant coaching the U.S. U23 Women’s National Soccer Team and stints at Utica College and SUNY New Paltz – brings his acumen to the annual Erock Soccer Camps at Thomas Felton Park in Modena.
Watson’s camp for tykes helps 6- and 7-year-olds learn skills like running with ball control and kicking toward the net. His day camp for ages 8 to 13 focuses on passing, spacing, and playing in a more team-first environment, with kids will usually playing each other in 8-on-8 or 9-on-9 games in the afternoon. The camps are $145 and $195 respectively.
A special goalkeepers camp intended to improve the soccer goalie’s game via footwork, catching, positioning, distribution and one-on-one play instruction is also offered. For youngsters 8 to 18, it runs in the evenings and cost $145.
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The camper-to-staff ratio is usually kept around 7-to-1, so all campers are bound to get something out of learning both the basics and more advanced skills of soccer. Kids should bring their own soccer ball and shin guards, if they own them. As a bonus, they’ll get a t-shirt, a bag and a chance for other free prizes.
The camps are typically scheduled for the last week in July but be sure to check camp dates on their website before reserving a spot.
Arguably one of the Hudson Valley’s all-time greatest high school basketball players, Tay Fisher scored 2,119 points at Kingston High School, with a state-record 334 three-pointers. In 2008 at Siena College, he drained six three-point shots in an NCAA Division I Tournament upset over Vanderbilt University. These days he entertains millions as Firefly with the world famous Harlem Globetrotters.
Fisher shares those skills with campers at his Fun-Damental Camp, focusing on shooting, ball-handling, passing and defense – all the basics necessary to be a good basketball player. College-level coaches assist Fisher at the camp, which ran for one week in 2015.
Two separate camps for boys ages 9 to 12 ran from 8am to 1pm were held last year, as was a 1:30-6:30pm co-ed camp for ages 13 to 17. T-shirts were provided to all campers and the cost for each program was $200. Log onto their website for summer 2016 date, time, and location information.
Does your child have dreams of tossing a game-winning touchdown pass? Maybe he wants to burst through the line and find daylight or she has a thirst for intercepting 10 to 20 passes a season. Whatever your kid’s football passion, it can be unearthed at Hudson Valley Football Camp.
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Set for July 18-21 with sessions from 5-8pm, the camp accepts students entering grades 2 through 8 who must bring equipment provided by their youth organization. Second, 3rd and 4th graders will slowly transition to protective equipment through a “readiness program” that focuses on fundamentals first.
Staff includes coaches from Marist College, Western Connecticut State University and local high schools. A trainer will be on site at all times. Cost is $135 for the week, which includes a camp t-shirt. For camp location and other information, log onto Hudson Valley Football Camp's website.
Timothy Malcolm is a Hudson Valley-based freelance writer.