When the final school bell rings in May, dozens of community centers throughout Tucson will host weeks-long summer camps for aspiring athletes and artists alike.
Whether a business aims to keep their gym abuzz during Tucson’s warm season, or they view the summer as a time for learning with a smile, proprietors want kids to recall their brand when saying: “Do you remember that time at summer camp?”
And many organizations providing a quality experience have done so for decades.
Gretchen Schantz, tennis director at the Tucson Racquet and Fitness Club, said summer camp is a perfect way to showcase what they have to offer, especially for people who are searching for a center to join as a family.
“It’s nice to bring in some youthful energy during the summer,” Schantz said. “And our club is a unique setting where we can do all of these camps at one location.”
Schantz, who has worked at the local fitness club since 2004, will co-direct this year’s program for the first time.
And this year, the racquet club celebrates 40 years of offering summer camp.
The racquet club offers a handful of athletic camps, including an all sports or soccer camp for kids 5 to 7 and an all sports, tennis or soccer camp for children age 7 and older.
Camp runs from May 28 through Aug. 2, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is broken up into four sessions. The first camp session lasts four days during Memorial Day weekend.
The other three sessions take place during three weeks intervals starting June 3. One three-week session costs $595, and weekly sessions are $210 each.
Pre- and post-camp hours are available for kids ages 5 to 12 at an additional cost.
The racquet club also hosts an evening tennis camp for adults, which runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m during the entire 10-week summer break.
Schantz said not only do they aim to attract new annual members, summer camp keeps the club busy when Tucsonans are away for the season or simply avoiding the scorching temperatures.
When camp is in full-swing, the club can expect to have about 200 young campers at the facility each day, she said.
In order to maintain a proper student/instructor ratio, the racquet club bolsters their staff for summer camp. They tend to hire teachers and sports coaches to lead the various camps, because scheduling is not an issue and working with children is second nature. Plus, they employ young adults who have attended camp in years past.
One of the goals of an athletic summer camp is to tucker out the participants, Schantz said, with a laugh. Although their camp differs from an academic setting, young people have an opportunity to learn cooperation, teamwork and hopefully establish an active, healthy lifestyle, she added.
“And campers can try out a lot of activities, and if they want to continue one they can during the school year,” she said.
Other benefits of camp include giving young people a five-hour window of physical activity, which truncates the time they are in front of a computer screen, Schantz said.
“For the majority of camp, the kids are active … they have to be running around and engaging in a sport. And they love it,” she said.
Furthermore, offering young people ample time for excise and being unplugged are some of the major talking points for summer camp facilitators throughout the country.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 28 percent of Americans ages 6 and older are physically inactive and only 20 percent of U.S. homes have a park within a half-mile. Moreover, young people between ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven hours a day in front of a computer screen.
But summer camps are here to stay and business is booming.
More than 14 million children and adults throughout the U.S. attend summer camp every year, according to the American Camp Association, a non-profit community of professionals who work to ensure the quality of camp programming.