Are college ID camps a necessary evil?

The following is an excerpt from Win the College Soccer Recruiting Game: The Guide for Parents and Players, By Steve Gans.

* * * * * * * * * *

I won’t keep you in suspense: Just like the highlights video, attendance at some carefully selected college soccer Identification Camps is generally a necessary part of the recruiting process. The next few chapters will discuss ID Camps in depth, and importantly, will outline the traps for the unwary.

It is first important to know that all ID Camps are money makers for college soccer coaches. In many cases college soccer coaching contracts involve a salary (often relatively modest) for the coach, and as well a provision allowing a coach to supplement his/her income through the revenue (or at least revenue sharing) generated by a school’s ID Camp. Also, in the case of the private ID Camps not run by/in connection with a particular college(s), the main motivation is profit, and involves payments to the attending coaches.

That said, though money-making may be the main motivation behind the ID Camps, at many of these camps there can be a chance for your child to be “identified” on the path to recruitment. Your task is to sift through which ID Camps actually can provide that potential real opportunity, and which cannot/do not.

The majority of ID Camps are held in the summertime, but it is important to note that with their growth and proliferation, versions of them are also run in certain instances in the wintertime and the spring (on weekends and during school vacation periods). ID Camps are open and marketed to high school rising 9th graders (i.e., the summer following eighth grade) through 12th graders. Other than that age group span, there are generally no necessary qualifications to attend these camps. Thus, as long as one can pay the fee for the camp, they are welcome to attend.

Indeed, I have been to some ID camps with my sons, the attendees of which included club players, non-club high school players, and some players who did not seem to play organized soccer at all (it seems that the parents of these latter participants might have misinterpreted the purpose of the camp, thinking it was a summer activity camp, or it seemed to make sense for another reason). Given that backdrop, the competitive quality of these camps is often very uneven.

And yet, given the college soccer landscape and practical realities, ID Camps are generally a necessary element of the recruiting effort. As college soccer program recruiting budgets are relatively limited, you can never be sure that the coaches from the college of your child’s dreams will see them play enough (indeed, if at all). Thus, ID Camps can offer your child another (and in some cases the only) opportunity to be viewed by college coaches (and given the ability to pick the ID camp, hopefully the particular college coach(es) of their hopes).

That said, even if an ID Camp is legitimate in that it is sincere about finding recruits at the camp, as no program selects all of its recruits (most programs recruit about 6 players per year) from ID Camps, and given the vagaries of these camps (e.g., sheer numbers of players, uneven quality of play, games occurring on adjacent fields), it is not an easy task to earn a recruiting offer from an ID Camp.

Despite those dilemmas, for the reasons stated, attendance at an ID Camp should be a serious consideration. The question is precisely which ID Camp(s) to attend, and when to attend it/them.

(In the book's next section, "Choosing the Optimal Identification Camps," I summarize the types of these camps as I see them — College Specific, Specific College Plus a Few, The Amalgam, The Bloated Amalgam with commentary about the pluses and minuses of focusing on/attending them.)

Win the College Soccer Recruiting Game: The Guide for Parents and Players By Steve Gans (Alinea Learning), 146 pages, 2023 (available in paperback, Kindle & Nook)

6 comments about "Are college ID camps a necessary evil?".
  1. R2 Dad, March 22, 2023 at 2:18 p.m.

    It's much easier to wring money out of nube U8 parents. By the time their kids get to U18, they've seen it all and are much further up the learning curve. College ID camps? Run by the same people who have been fleecing parents for the past 10 years? And crappy NCAA/college soccer doesn't pass the eye test? Hard pass.

  2. Bill Dooley, March 23, 2023 at 3:46 p.m.

    So many of these camps now seem to last from noon one day through morning the next, are (post pandemic) completely non-residential, and may not even provide a meal between an afternoon and evening session. 

    While that might be sufficient to provide a cursory pass/fail on whether the player might have the tools to play for a team, how could a coaching staff even begin to get a handle on the qualities on that person in so short a time?

  3. Tim Shyver, March 24, 2023 at 10:28 a.m.

    Just a part of the never ending US Youth Soccer Money Grab! Caveat Emptor! Lol. 

  4. humble 1, March 24, 2023 at 1:11 p.m.

    As usual very harsh on college soccer here.  Why?  My kiddo before HS attended 'camps' not ID camps but camps - at U of NM and U of Wisconsin-Madison.  We met and spoke with both of the HC's.  One fired, one retired now, but it was very good learning experience for I and for him. At U of NM the 'camp' was run by his players and coaches form other programs.  All his players where there - including Aaron Herrera, who went on to play for RSL and US U20s and now Montreal.  Yeah, guys, sory, but college player do go pro.   He coached my son.  The price was not high.  Since the player is now in HS, he is doing ID Camps.  He did 3 last year.  One local, two residential, he stayed in dorms.  Now he knows what the diff bet. bare bones and honors dorms as those were the two type he stayed in.  He loved it.  Two class programs again, run by players and coaches.  Class experience.  Years ago he went to a camp at the number one public state university for mens soccer in the USA, they have big revenue camp system, he was with a buddy, they had a blast.  The price was not bad.  That would be the extreme of camps, as they probably turns a good six figure income form that setup every year, but, I got no problem with it.  All his non soccer mates went to camps too - and - guess what - soccer was a great value!!!  A lot of folks toiling in the college soccer landscape get little credit or respect for the work they do.  Not from my lot.  Respect for college soccer!  C'mon!

  5. Kent James replied, April 2, 2023 at 1:54 a.m.

    Humble, you make some good points.  And given the reality that college coaches (especially below D-1) can't realistically scout many games (where competition is also uneven), it's reasonably efficient to bring some coaches and some players together and let 'em play while the coaches watch (though I get the quality can vary).  There are worse ways to spend a weekend. 

  6. William Allen, March 24, 2023 at 5:59 p.m.

    my sample size is small, but of those who received an offer for a D1 or D3 offer on my son's club team, the most important reason they received an offer was their performance at an ID Camp, they were fortunate to go to the 'right' camps, which I suspect is a major point of this book

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications