With temperatures set to rise this week and the full summer season getting ready to kick in hundreds of thousands of impressionable young children will be getting active in summer camps across a bewildering range of sports and on almost every spare patch of grass around the country.
There are the high end of camps run by Leinster rugby in partnership with Bank of Ireland, by the FAI in partnership with Sports Direct and by the GAA in partnership with Kellogg’s.
All of these will have qualified coaches and guest appearances from star players as well as gear and bags that will be seen on the backs of those kids throughout the next year.
After the weekend that was at Royal Portrush, the number of those looking to attend golf camps will be on the rise as well. These are available at clubs up and down the country and at the GUI and ILGU Academy hosted at Carton House.
There are Gymnastics camps and Basketball camps, athletics camps and Badminton camps, camps to suit every flavour of sporting activity.
If you can’t decide on one then both Trinity College Dublin and the Sport Ireland Campus at Abbottstown are hosting multi-sports camps as well.
Tennis clubs are abuzz with young voices and the popular Parks Tennis programme which makes the sport more accessible through local authority and other courts is also in full swing with a regular post Wimbledon buzz.
The Sports Direct FAI Summer Camps have been running under that banner since 2015 and have seen 164,000 young boys and girls pass through over 400 locations around the country in that time.
The fee that is paid to take part in almost all of the camps goes at least in part to the clubs that are hosting them. Sports Direct estimates that this has generated around €3.5 million over the past number of years.
The impact in the GAA is even greater with numbers this year anticipated to be around 150,000 taking part in the popular Cúl Camps.
This is in addition to the camps that most clubs operate using their own experience and coaches drawn from the teenage cohort of players.
The days of turning up on the days when the sun is shining and handing over cash to the head coach are largely gone and there are additional benefits which clubs can gain from the registration and payment solutions offered by companies like ClubForce and Easy Payments Plus.
“In general, clubs don’t take into consideration the cost of cash. The aspects of accepting cash including time and lodgement charges can all add up for a club,” said Ciara Donovan of easy Payments Plus.
“Even though in most cases, this work is carried out by volunteers, this is not what someone joins a club to do and their valuable time could be put to better use.”
“A common issue for clubs is accountability. electronic registration makes it easier to plan and to issue receipts as well as to back up the financial return on an ongoing basis.”
“Managing summer camps also involves gathering a lot of children’s data. Paper forms and spreadsheets are the new challenges clubs face when trying to be GDPR compliant. Going online ensures your data is safely stored in one place, and companies like ours make sure that everything is compliant by giving clubs the right questions to ask.”
Among Easy Payments Plus’s clients are Leinster and Munster Rugby who also take advantage of the ability for parents to indicate the shirt, shorts and sock size so that stocks can be available in the right quantity at the venue on any given day.
“Organisers can ask parents to submit additional information with the payment such as permission to administer first aid in the case of an emergency, contact details of the person collecting the child each day, or any medical issues a child may have. This is all vital information in the running of camps and can be printed off at the touch of a button so that those on the ground have it all at hand.”
Summer sports camps are an integral part of the Irish summer. They keep kids active and engaged. They provide coaching entry points for teenagers coming through the ranks and help to build strong connections across communities.
It’s hard to imagine a sporting summer without them.