At all six Johnson County high schools, sports programs use the same formula for future success and immediate funding: summer skill camps.

Children are invited to learn how to cheer, get help from the high school basketball coach or even learn Ultimate Frisbee — at a cost. The camps bring thousands of dollars into their respective programs while preparing local children for their days as student-athletes.

This summer, more than 2,000 kids across Johnson County signed up for camp.

Skill camps are feeder programs for talent. They also are lucrative.

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The camps can last from four days to two months, and most have an age range starting as young as 5 years old.

Young athletes learn fundamentals, but emphasis also is placed on learning the system and style of play used by the high school team hosting the camp.

Sports programs need to raise some of their own money in cases where gate receipts won’t cover the full cost of the sport or new equipment on the wish-list. Camps offer a chance to raise money to buy new equipment or new uniforms for the players and gear for the coaches.

At Center Grove sports camps, business is booming. Eight of the high school’s sports programs offered skill camps this summer, and seven of them anticipated a profit — five made more than $1,000.

Money earned through sports skill camps can be used at the head coach’s discretion after it’s been deposited into the program’s account, athletic director Jon Zwitt said.

The Trojan basketball program had an anticipated $5,000 profit from roughly 240 participants. The cost for the four-day camp was $75 per child, and students from kindergarten to eighth grade attended, according to information provided by Center Grove schools.

But the big winner among summer skill camps was Center Grove tennis. The tennis program brings in close to $50,000 over two months this summer, with a profit of roughly $8,000, which is expected to go back into the program, according to information provided by Center Grove schools.

That camp attracted more than 300 participants, including not only Trojan tennis players but also children and teens from nearby schools, such as Whiteland and Roncalli, and others farther away, such as Plainfield and Mooresville.

Two-week sessions were available for children as young as 5 all the way up to current high school students outside the Center Grove program. But for the kids headed toward playing on one of Center Grove’s middle school teams, the camp provided summerlong programs, Center Grove head tennis coach Ivan Smith said.

Camp expenses include a payroll for 16 employees, primarily students home from college, T-shirts and equipment. Tennis balls alone cost roughly $2,400, Smith said.

For many of the youth who sign up for summer skill camps, learning the way coaches want you to play is important if they plan to attend the school that hosts the camp.

That’s important in Franklin. Every kid who is signed up for Franklin’s youth football league is automatically enrolled in Franklin Community High School’s summer skill camp, Franklin head football coach Adam Reese said.

“I think it’s important to be introduced to our system, so they’re more prepared when they get to middle and high school,” Reese said. “It’s just as important to get them to have a good time, so they’ll enjoy it and want to play in the future.”

Through the years, camps build relationships as players grow up and make progress, where they’ll ultimately contribute on Friday nights, Reese said.

This summer, money received from Franklin’s football camp was used to pay for new shirts and other apparel and gear for the varsity football coaches, Reese said.

At Greenwood Community High School, head basketball coach Bruce Hensley used money from last year’s summer skill camp and combined it with funds from this year’s camp and some parent donations to purchase a shooting machine that can be used by the basketball team if they want to shoot around after practices.

The machines, which encloses the hoop area with a large net and collects made and missed shots, then passes the ball back to the shooter, can cost up to $4,000.

Greenwood’s one-week basketball camp costs $40 to $50 per child depending on the age. All of that money goes right back into the program, Hensley said.

“We have our own funding, but money from summer camps just helps compensate,” Hensley said. “The athletic department will try to do as much as they can, but it’s an athletic department, not the basketball department. So we just felt like it was the best way to buy the machine.”

He said becoming acquainted with coaches and how Greenwood basketball operates is just as important for the campers as the money is for the program to fund its needs.

“At a young age, it’s really important to learn the fundamentals,” Hensley said. “They won’t form good habits in one week, but at least they’re introduced to how we want things done here.”

For some parents, it’s not uncommon for their child’s participation in skill camps to be based solely on giving their children something to do to stay active and busy during the summer days.

At Center Grove’s tennis camp, Smith said, a lot of parents who sign their kids up will write the days they’ll be at camp into a daily planner that’s full of activities through the whole summer.

And for some, the reason to sign up for skill camps depends on the age of the child.

Phil Hommel is a Greenwood graduate who now has three children, ages 13, 10 and 7, and the reason to enroll them in Greenwood summer sports programs varies with each, Hommel said.

For his 13-year-old son, Luke, competition and fundamental instruction have become the motivation to participate in skill camps, Hommel said. And at 13, that means most camps come with a higher price tag as they’re more focused toward enhancing skill rather than teaching fundamentals.

Luke participated in football and basketball camp. Phil Hommel said being in those local camps is important as Luke’s high school years approach.

“If this is the main fundraiser for their program, I want to support schools where my sons and daughter will be playing,” Phil Hommel said. “These coaches are putting in the time and effort at the school my kids are going to attend, and if the coaches are the same when my kids get to high school, they’ll know the environment.”

By the numbers

High school sports summer skill camps:

Center Grove

Boys basketball

Cost: $75 per child

Expenses: $5,000

Profit: $5,000


Cost: $45 per child

Expenses: $875

Profit: $0


Cost: $60-$560 per child

Expenses: $11,000

Profit: $4,000-$8,000

Girls basketball

Cost: $60 per child

Expenses: $1,000

Profit: $10,000

Girls track

Cost: $50 per child

Expenses: $0

Profit: $500

Ultimate Frisbee

Cost: $45 per child

Expenses: $1,660

Profit: $500


Cost: $35 per child

Expenses: $300

Profit: $2,800


Cost: $40 per child

Expenses: $0

Profit: $800


Cost: $65 per child

Expenses: $250

Profit: $2,000

*information provided by Center Grove schools.



Cost: $40 and $50 per child


Cost: $280 for 20 clinics


Cost: $50 per child



Cost: $40 per child

Girls basketball

Cost: $70 per child


Cost: $50 per child

Boys basketball

Cost:$70 per child


Boys basketball

Cost: $35 per child

Pull Quote

“I think it’s important to be introduced to our system, so they’re more prepared when they get to middle and high school. It’s just as important to get them to have a good time, so they’ll enjoy it and want to play in the future.”

Franklin head football coach Adam Reese, on the role of summer sports camp at the high school

Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2719.