By Victoria Chiesa and USTA.com
No need to pack your bags, kids, because this year, summer camp is coming to you.
In partnership with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and other national governing bodies of sport, the USTA will host a first-of-its-kind Net Generation Virtual Summer Camp later this month.
With traditional summer camps across the country disrupted this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the goal of this program—set to run from July 20-24 via the USTA’s Facebook and Twitter pages—is to provide a fun, free and online alternative to those environments, but nonetheless include many of the same experiences.
Led by USTA Net Generation National Manager Leah Friedman, who has hosted “Net Generation Live” on USTA social media channels for the past 10 weeks, camp sessions will be tailored each day in two 30-minute daily sessions—one in the morning and the second in the afternoon—and will provide attendees the opportunity to build athletic skills, stay motivated and learn new things.
The development of “Net Generation Live” was motivated by a desire to provide students of all ages across the country an opportunity to stay active as they complied with stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, and Friedman says that the idea to extend similar programming into the summer was born from the popularity of those classes.
“We had so much fun with our Net Generation Live classes and reaching communities across the country that we wanted to ensure we continued to support our players through the summer,” she said.
“Knowing that some camps have been canceled, or with questions about even if kids are attending camp, we wanted to keep players active in sports while they are at home. Plus, I loved summer camp as a kid, so I wanted to bring the joy I had back to our programs.”
With the support of the USOPC, the USTA is collaborating with five other national governing bodies—USA Football, PGA of America, U.S. Soccer, USA Baseball and U.S. Figure Skating—to create diverse daily schedules. With an array of sports typically on offer in traditional camp settings, these organizations will help recreate that experience virtually, with activities and special guests from those sports.
“We are thrilled to partner with USTA’s Net Generation and help provide kids across the country with a platform to stay active and have fun this summer,” said Chris Snyder, Director of Coaching Education at the USOPC. “The Net Generation Virtual Summer Camp follows our American Development Model, giving kids full athletic potential and utilizing sport as a path toward an active and healthy lifestyle.”
In addition, in partnership with Nemours Children’s Health System, campers will be provided with tips to stay healthy and hydrated, as well as easy-to-follow healthy snack recipes that can be recreated at home.
“Camp is all about three things for me: sports, fun and food,” Friedman continued. “We will continue to have our tennis activities, and we are thrilled to work together with these partners to introduce those sports into our at-home programs and activities… and to provide our campers with healthy snack ideas to fuel them for success.
“Partnering with our national governing bodies is essential for the future of our young athletes. Through our American Development Model, we emphasize the importance of multi-sport play to ensure our youth is on the path of success to develop a healthy and lifelong relationship with staying active. Our partners are excited to collaborate with us on our camp initiative as we develop cross-functional skills that can take you from the field, skating rink and golf course, to the tennis court and vice versa.”
Campers can register for free online at http://netgeneration.com/virtualsummercamp and are encouraged to use #NetGeneration to share their camp experiences on their own social media channels. All registered campers will also receive a digital activity book via email.
“We couldn’t be more excited to host Net Generation Virtual Summer Camp, giving more kids from coast-to-coast the opportunity and access to learn and play tennis at home for free,” added Craig Morris, USTA Chief Executive, Community Tennis.
“Since the pandemic, the USTA and various sports across the country have been able to engage with key audiences in creative ways through the power of social media. As a result of that, we are proud to champion the inaugural Net Generation Virtual Summer Camp and provide families with healthy, fun and safe activities to enjoy this summer.”