Sports Plus

The key to marketing success is quality and continuity as camps grow and prosper by having repeat customers and very good word-of-mouth advertising. Happy campers mean more returning campers and camper referrals.

USSC commits 8 percent of revenue or $2 million a year to advertising and marketing. This substantial amount of funds pays for high quality brochures, heavy direct mail, print advertising and a well promoted, efficient Web site.

All in all, the key is good sites and good directors staying together over many years.

First-year instructors, assistant coaches, head counselors and assistant directors all are recruited, trained and managed by the college coach. The salary profiles tend to be similar across the sports.

“The directors are very motivated because of the nature of the relationship; these are college coaches that really take their camps seriously,” says Hoeveler. “We’ve created an open ended economic opportunity and they have a sense of ownership.”

The bond between USSC and the college coach/director/partner is a quality control dream. The coaches do an amazingly good job because the camp reflects upon them and the image of their college. He adds, “They know how to organize, they know how to run camps, they know how to teach, and they are really motivated to run a good camp.”

And the product, which is the overall camp experience, is evaluated by an on-line exit survey given to parents who continue to give an overwhelmingly positive response to the programs year after year.

There have been very few instances when troubleshooting was necessary and USSC staff had to take over a particular camp. After all, business is business, and from a business standpoint, each camp is a profit or loss center.

Thus, strict accounting is kept on revenue and expenses, and the partners are compensated accordingly. All financial matters are done in-house at USSC. Hoeveler states, “With the press of a button, we can get a complete up to date ledger of any one of our camps instantaneously.”

How it Fits

Although there is no set curriculum from one camp to the next, USSC provides some rough guidelines to which all camps must adhere.

For example, in the tennis camps, a minimum of 30 hours of tennis instruction is required for each six-day, five-night week of camp. Another guideline is to maintain a staff ratio of 1-5, as each staffer doubles as camp counselor and sports instructor.

Also, an important imperative is to organize fun activities outside the realm of the sports program.

Well organized, after sport time, fun activities are a big part of the camp experience. Some activities include a camp dance with a DJ, talent show, Casino night, movies, a trip off campus to an amusement park, a beach, or attending a professional sporting event.

Other standards include the maximum number of kids on the playing field at one time, a certain amount of hours of instruction, time allotted on the courts, and the grouping of kids by age and/or skill levels.

“Within those guidelines, our coach/partners have quite a bit of discretion on how they teach and how they structure the teaching program,” points out Hoeveler.

Due to differing staff ratios and facility costs, the price for each resident camp fluctuates from $500-$900, depending upon the sport, with golf being the highest and baseball the lowest. Team sports may require less staff, while individual sports need more staff per camper to provide the best coaching.

A typical week in the life of a USSC/Nike camper would begin on a Sunday afternoon with orientation, groupings, and evaluations, followed by five full days of camp, with each day consisting of morning fundamental drills and instructions, afternoon games and competitions, totaling five hours. While player improvement is the ultimate goal, team matches and assigned games keep the week exciting.

Fostering continuity is a critical conviction of USSC. Starting a new camp requires a committed coach and a location that would strengthen with stability and steadiness. USSC camps are not like a franchise. No financial investment is required from the coach/partners.

The coach becomes a partner by committing to build a summer sports camp program with excellence and quality. Keeping a director, a facility, and the management (USSC) together for a long period of time is important for the camp’s long-term success. From there, the USSC camps grow by word of mouth and repeat business.

Even though there is turnover in the college coaching ranks, the university loves the visibility and professionalism of the program (and the revenue from renting their facilities), so it encourages new coaches to continue the Nike camp.

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