Summer camps can be found that offer intensive instruction in almost any sport imaginable, or that offer quality instruction and competition in a wide range of sports. Camps are split into groups of day camps and overnight camps. In the United States overnight sports camps fall into two groups. The more traditional of these offer boys and girls the chance to learn and play many sports. Sessions are typically 3 to 8 weeks long, and some camps have multiple sessions. While many strong athletes attend these camps, a traditional sports camp program also serves the needs of less proficient athletes by having all campers compete on teams picked by ability, so all kids get a chance to contribute to their team's success in their daily competitions. Some of these camps have been operating for more than 100 years. These camps generally focus, through the medium of team sports, on the development of the whole child; not just how they are as an athlete, but also how they are as a person, a bunkmate, a teammate, and a friend. Many of these camps include a variety of non-sports programs as well for a more diverse experience.
Many sports camps are of the second type, which focuses almost exclusively on one particular sport. These camps generally focus on helping each camper acquire skills in a sport that help them gain confidence and improve their chances of making the team when they return to school. Indeed, some campers are helped to be nationally competitive by way of this kind of intensive summer training. These camps generally run week-long sessions, and some campers may attend more than one session even though the curriculum repeats each week. Some single-sport camps offer longer sessions. Many of the instructors at these camps are coaches of local teams, and thus many athletes get valuable extra time with the coach they play for during the school year (or the coach they hope to play for during the upcoming school year). Such camps are also a good way to learn about potential college scholarships in their sport.
Both multi-sport and single-sport camps tend to be run by experienced teachers and coaches (who typically have summers off from their school responsibilities). Cabin staff, instructors, and counselors are typically college athletes. The best sports camps succeed at challenging aspiring athletes both mentally and physically, while also promoting their social and leadership skills. This is possible in part because many of the counselors attended as campers, and thus there is a vibrant "camp culture" that welcomes new campers into an extended camp family and establishes the high standards that incoming campers are encouraged to achieve. The best sports camps do much more than just improve a camper's soccer, tennis, lacrosse, or wrestling skills; they help each child become a more skillful athlete, a more gracious competitor, a more committed team player, and a more confident person.