Hold onto your butts. Virtual summer camps are a necessity as we head into an unpredictable winter season. Tech companies from around the world have just proven their worth when needed most by providing youth sports a virtual outlet for individual training, practices and development during a summer when in-person camps were canceled or pushed back due to COVID-19.
Most summer camp registration typically begins in March, but this year many organizations had to take a step back in order to come up with a new plan as shelter-in-place and social distancing measures affected everything a summer camp is supposed to be.
US Sports Camps (USSC) is the largest youth sports summer program in North America and the official operator of all Nike Sports Camps. The camps take on as many as 100,000 campers and 16 different sports in a typical year. 2020 will be the first summer in 48 years that USSC has not operated its in-person summer sports camps. Now, USSC and many other summer sports camps have adjusted and partnered with sports and fitness platforms like Famer to develop virtual models around their original sports camps.
“We were always meant to be an extension and enhancement to the way a coach or club taught or trained sports. But since COVID, we’ve had to become a replacement,” Famer CEO Rich Abend said.
By utilizing live video platforms such as Zoom to greet athletes face-to-face, alongside asynchronistic tools that enable athletes to perform tasks on their own time, USSC is able to keep kids engaged and coaches employed throughout its summer programming.
With virtual camps proving successful, USSC isn’t alone in offering them. Organizations like the Celebrity Sports Academy explored virtual technologies as a framework for competitive tournaments and other organized events moving forward.
Their summer basketball camp that is usually filled with stars, captured four weeks worth of content—ranging from basketball skills to agility drills in one long day of filming in Chicago. Pro athletes including CJ McCollum, Candace Parker, Cappie Pondexter and Andrew Wiggins recorded their messages for campers remotely using proprietary streaming technology. Registration gave participants access to 24 training videos (six released per week each Monday), pro athlete videos/messaging, live video check-ins with pros and camp coaches on Fridays, and access to VR technology for their computer, tablet or phone whether they have a VR headset or not.
As kids continue to adjust to a world without usual summer activities, sports and social interaction, many organizations are offering virtual camps to keep campers engaged. Parents are eager to find fun activities that keep their kids busy, entertained and most importantly, safe during this uncertain time. Camps around the country have been closed this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there are may virtual sports camps out there that refuse to quit on their campers.