As an athlete at the high school level, it is always great to receive mail from college coaches. Even if it is a form letter or just a camp invite, it really just make you feel special to open the letter from a big school. And while I am not here to rain on your parade, I think it important for athletes to realize what a camp invite means and how you should handle them.
Let me start out by saying that a number of college programs send out tape invites to hundreds and probably thousands of athletes. Unless you have been hearing from the school before receiving this invite, then really, it means nothing. Unless you really blow up at their camp (And the chances are slim), than they are not going to recruit you. And if you have spent the money to attend the week long camp, hopefully you got something out of it more than a hope that you can improve your recruiting stock.
As I have said many times before, college coaches supplement a big part of their paycheck with summer camps. If they bring in 1,000 kids at $50 per kid, that equals out to $50,000 that they have added to their revenue. Also remember that the price I just listed is extremely small and the big schools are able to bring in well over 1,000 kids in the summer.
If you really feel that you have what it takes to play at the Division I level, then you need to be looking for camps that are more individual for the top athletes. For example, one camp in the state I live in has a one day senior elite camp. These coaches charge less for this camp because they want to bring in as many top flight prospects as possible. These prospect will then go head to head and that allows the coaches to get a better feel for the athletes there.
College basketball coaches will do the same thing. These coaches will hold elite basketball camps and slash the costs of the camp as much as possible. If both of these camps break even for the coaching staff, it is well worth it. First off, it helps their evaluations by getting a chance to work with the players. It also helps in recruiting because the players are on campus and some feel that is half the battle in the recruiting process.
If a college does not hold an elite one day camp or it is something that you have not been invited to, speak with them about attending one or two days of their week long camp. I just took a quick look at how much it would cost a high school athlete to attend the LSU week long camp. Obviously the Tigers are a hot team coming off of a National title but they currently charge $300 per athlete from Sunday night until Wednesday.
I only recommend talking to the coaching staff about attending one day if you are being recruited by them. If they have requested tape, sent hand written mail, and tried to get you on campus for a visit. If my son was going through the recruiting process, unless this camp was the best fundamental camp in the country, I would not take him to a camp just because they sent me an invite and have shown no other attention. You might as well chalk with up with the other form letters you have been getting.
If a college coach cannot figure out if you can play or not in one day, then maybe they should not be at that position. That is why speaking with them about attending one day will save you money and the hassle of attending weeks and weeks of college football camps. This will also allow you to get to more camps and give you more overall flexibility.
For college basketball, the college coaches put a smaller emphasis of trying to recruit kids at their non-elite summer camps. I recently had an athlete tell me that he wanted to go to the big in-state school to play basketball and was named MVP of the summer week long camp. The problem is that the majority of all good basketball players, especially to play at the Division I level, are likely on AAU teams traveling the country or playing with their high school team. Most of the camps that I have seen, the head coach is in attendance on the first day and the last day. They know that they players that will keep them in their job are on the AAU circuit. Could they find a walk on? Maybe, but you are better off not attending these camps if you are looking at it in financial terms.
At times, it really is hard to figure out what schools want to evaluate you at camp or want to get your money for the camp. But use your best judgment and go to camps at places you would actually want to go to school. There is no reason to try and get an offer from a school that you wouldn’t want to attend.