January, February and March are the big times of year for Junior A teams to send out invites to their spring camps. These camps are used to compare all the potential recruits in attendance and suss out who should be invited back to the fall camp. The team is then picked in the fall.
Chances are that if your son plays Midget AAA in a hockey rich part of the continent he is getting invited to these Junior A camps. Sometimes when mass invites are sent, it becomes tough for players to choose which camps to attend. It can be really tough to know if a team is legitimately interested in your son or just interested in collecting the signup fee.
This leads many parents to wonder if they should even bother with attending more than their local camp.
I’m here to say that you should attend more than one camp… but not every camp.
Here are my big tips about how many camps your son should attend:
– No matter what age your son is, don’t just attend one camp, especially just the local camp because it is convenient.
– The younger he is, the less camps he needs to attend–if your son is 14 or 15, he doesn’t need to attend a camp three provinces over. He can’t make the team for a couple of years (by the rules as an out of province player). The team also won’t be travelling that far too watch him during the season. Stay within the relative area but attend a couple of camps.
– American players living in a state where good junior hockey isn’t a thing, i.e. everything that isn’t USHL or NAHL territory or the Northeast, should travel to a camp for the experience and exposure.
– The older your son is, especially if he is in his final year or two of midget, the more camps he should attend. If it’s going to be a battle for him to make a team, I would attend as many as possible. It’s your last kick at the can, so why not?
– By his final year of midget, your son should have such a relationship with a team that you expect to get a pretty positive nod or even a guaranteed spot from a junior team in the spring. Depending on the league, your son many even want this while he is midget eligible. That is the ideal scenario.
– When you have two camps happening the same weekend, your son should choose the team that will offer him the best chance to reach his ultimate goals. That doesn’t necessarily mean the weaker team or the team with more spot. It means the team that will help him get the scholarship he wants or forward him to tier I junior leagues, such as the WHL, OHL or USHL. I turned down the easier of two teams to make when I was trying out for AAA. I ended up making the harder team. My first junior team said they invited based on the harder team going to the national championship.
– Don’t be afraid to talk to the manager/coach–many of my Training Camp Invite Formula players have been doing this to determine which invites to accept. Two specifically have reported that coaches were elated with the contact. More so, the players got to talk to the coaches to see who was returning. I attended my first junior team’s camp because the head scout told me that they weren’t happy with their returning guy at my position. The team had no open spots, but I made the roster on the opening night. It’s true, coaches may embellish how good their program is, but it’s much tougher to fib about how many players are returning–99% of eligible players from the roster get invited back to camp.
– Attend any league-run prospect camps or combines. Don’t question them if you have an invite. Take it. Some of these are in the spring. These are big scouting events and often they are by application only. They are also a good chance to allow every team in the league to see your son at once. This will lead to many camp invites.
Remember, the main goal of your spring camp is to get invited back in the fall and build a relationship with the team in the process.
Any parent whose son has been to a junior camp before knows that not all camps are altruistic for the purpose of identifying talent. Some teams have way too many players invited. I did a video last year on how to tell which camps are fundraisers and which are legit. You can check it out here. It’s important that you start any decision making with how good the league is and how good the team is. You can find info in this video.
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