There are camps for all different levels and it is sometimes not clear what the level of the camp is right away. The camp experience can vary from a sport daycare camp to a full on elite college recruiting camp so finding the one that is appropriate for your son or daughter is important especially with the high cost of camps these days.
That being said, if you are on the less serious end of the camp spectrum look for a beginner camp that emphasizes learning the basics in a fun and positive environment. These camps are often held at a local school or recreation facility. This type of camp should not break your bank so watch out for camps asking a fortune.
The amount of money you are willing to pay for a camp should go up with the level of coaching you expect to receive for your son or daughter so keep that in mind. Therefore, if your son or daughter has a good grasp on the basics or is simply a good athlete, an intermediate camp would be the right fit and you should expect the price to rise a bit. The same goes for an advanced camp. The price will go up.
Also, keep in mind that, no matter which level of camp you choose, there might be varying skill level groups within that camp based on the forms that you fill out when registering for the camp. Your son or daughter maybe put in the lower group because of their age, but he or she may have the experience level of kids in the upper level groups. Counselors often try and fix these problems within the first day, but if you feel that your child is getting too much information or too little information dont be afraid to ask for him or her to be moved up or down to a different group.
Lastly, if your son or daughter is looking to play a specific sport in college there are two main camps to decide between and I suggest going to both if you can manage it financially. These camps are usually the most expensive, but if your son or daughter can get a scholarship out of attending it will definitely pay off in the long run.
The first is a camp specifically for recruiting. These camps offer very little instruction, but offer a great opportunity to show your skills in a game setting. The sole purpose of these camps is to be seen by college coaches and provide a setting for those coaches to see a large group of athletes in one place at one time. Since these camps are expensive, make sure there will be college coaches actually attending. My advice is to ask around about the camp before registering and also to call the camp and ask for a CURRENT list of coaches attending the camp. College coaches are very busy and their schedules can change so the list of coaches on the camp brochure may not be the same as the list of coaches present on the actual day of camp. Also, if your son or daughter is interested in a specific school, make sure they email the coach to let the coach know of their interest in the school and the camps and tournaments they will be attending.
The second type of camp is a college specific camp. If your son or daughter is interested in attending the University of Maryland or Holy Cross, sign them up for their camp. The majority of colleges offer their own camps and this is a great way to be seen and show the coach you are really interested. I worked the camp at my college for 5 years and each year we brought on at least one girl to the team who had attended camp. Also, if you are on the college campus the coach is able to speak with your son or daughter, unlike situations outside of campus, due to NCAA rules. This provides a great advantage to your son or daughter. It is also never a bad idea to get to know the school you are interested in a little better by spending some quality time there and many camps offer campus and sport facility tours to campers.
I have one last piece of advice for you if your son or daughter is looking to play in college and attend one of these camps. Remind them that coaches are not only going to be looking for how they react on the field, but they are also going to be looking for how they react off the field. I cant even tell you how many kids I have seen blow their chance by goofing off with friends or showing up late. It is really important to show your best self, not only on the field, but off the field.
As you can see there is a wide variety of camps to choose from and its important to pick the right one for your son or daughter and for the right price. You want your son or daughter to get the most out of their camp experience so remember to do some research and dont be afraid to ask for them to be moved up or down once they are there. Good luck at camp. It's a great experience and one everyone should enjoy.