How to Run a Youth Football Camp

By La Vera Frazier

According to Dave Cisar, a trainer of youth football coaches across the nation and the author of “Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan,” football camps allow kids to get a clear understanding that playing football can be both fun and rewarding if they follow a few simple directions from the coaching staff. Following these steps will help you successfully plan for and run a football camp.

Develop and Plan the Camp

Check with your local government to see what permits, insurance and forms your camp must have to operate. Your camp may be required to maintain an operation permit and/or insurance. Many states require that student athletes’ parents/guardians sign waivers for temporary power of attorney when the child’s guardian is not present during camp, practices or games. A power of attorney is required for the coaching staff to make decisions for a child if there is a medical or other type of emergency.

Decide on the length and type of camp you want to provide. There are two types of camps; day camps and overnight camps. Overnight camps offer a more intense and well-rounded program, but they are expensive to operate. Day camps, on the other hand, are cheaper to operate but require more camp days to provide a program that is equally as intense and well-rounded as its overnight counterpart. Also, plan to hold your camp sessions in late June or July; or as close to the start of the practice season as possible. When young athletes go to camp too early in the summer, they will forget what they learned at camp before they go to their first practice for the fall season.

Decide on the camp's price range. The camp's price will depend on many factors; such as, the type and length of the camp. You may also need to charge sub-fees for items such as food and equipment rental. Create an itemized price list for the parents of your campers. Keep in mind that price packages make camp payments convenient for parents and sponsors.

Draft a program syllabus for your camp. This syllabus should include the daily routine and hourly schedule of events. Be sure, to create a program syllabus specific to your camp type and groups within the camp. Also, schedule your physical conditioning so that sessions are no more than two hours for older kids, or 90 minutes for kids under eight years old. For example, in the mornings half the campers can work on offensive drills, while the other half does defensive drills. After lunch, the campers can switch positions on the field. In the evening, the campers can practice their new skills in a scrimmage.

Secure coaches, referees, and motivational speakers. There are several coaching positions available during youth camps including defensive, offensive, special teams, and conditioning coaches. Your camp will also need referees to officiate the camp's scrimmages. You can arrange for football players from local colleges or universities, local semi-pro football leagues, or local NFL teams to volunteer with your camp as mentors, coaches and referees.

Advertise your camp. Create a website for your camp that details your camp's mission and objectives. The site must include information about the times and location of the camp, the camp fees and what campers can expect from your camp. Also, include contact information and instructions on how to register for camp. Create fliers and banners to post in your community as well as print brochures and registration forms to give to interested parents who may have no Internet access.

During Camp

Coach the campers effectively. Many of your campers may be first-time football players and may not know what position they would like to play. Start camp by finding each player's strengths and weaknesses; separate players into offensive, defensive, and special teams. Arrange your campers according to their strength and/or age, and as you see improvement rearrange your athletes to continue practice with other campers on their performance level. Run plays and drills until you get those right five or six times in a row. Be sure to congratulate your athletes as much as you critic them.

Teach campers how to properly condition. Football conditioning should focus on maximizing speed by increasing acceleration and agility in addition to increasing muscular endurance, flexibility and mobility. According to, aerobic workouts are not as effective for a football player’s performance as endurance workouts. In fact, long-distance running to build an aerobic base can be detrimental to the football player. Instead, football-specific interval training is much more beneficial.

Be organized and safe. Plan for meal breaks as well as frequent water breaks during physical activities. If your campers are older kids and teens, give each camper an itinerary for the camp so they will know how best to manage their time. Be sure that you have designated storage areas for your campers to keep their personal items and equipment. Also, take steps to ensure that your camp's facility and equipment is sanitary and safe for use by your campers.

Provide each camper with a final evaluation. This evaluation should be a progress report for their time at your camp. It should also include advice and tips on how the camper can improve their weak areas and perfect their strengths.

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