Q: Some of my junior high coaches are planning two-week summer camps for their team sports. They intend to use the camps as a tool to hone the skills of their current players, and to identify new talent in the upcoming grade levels. The camp will not be competing against any other teams, but instead will scrimmage amongst themselves, only. Are there any restrictions or guidelines we should be aware of when planning and preparing for this camp?
A: Yes. The University Interscholastic League (UIL) sets guidelines for off-season, non-competition sports camps where school employees work with their own students. The regulations apply to all students except incoming high school sophomores, juniors and seniors (summer strength and conditioning rules apply to these ages). Coaches may run these "clinics" for all other students and may instruct students in their attendance zone as long as the camps do not involve formal competition and/or scheduled matches or games.
UIL regulation 1209 outlines the rules related to summer athletic activities in schools for students below the sophomore level. In order to maintain fairness between all UIL teams and sports, these summer rules are designed to increase interest in the sport and maintenance of essential skills, and to discourage school-sponsored rigorous, competitive athletics during summer break. Summer clinics in baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball may occur after the last day of school until the second Monday in August, and must be held within the boundaries of the district. Other regulations include:
- Limitation on Number of Days - May not host the camps/clinics for more than six consecutive days (total of six weeks).
- Fees - The superintendent (or a designee) must approve the schedule of fees prior to announcing the camp to the public. Texas law requires a district to establish procedures for waiving fees for students unable to pay. Fees may be charged and paid by all other students and/or parents. Check your FP Policies for your district's guidelines on collecting fees.
- Equipment - The school may furnish sports equipment to be used during the camp in accordance with local policy. Specifically, the school can provide balls, bats, nets, protective equipment and other general playing equipment. However, the school cannot issue individual gear (e.g., uniforms, shoes, caps, gloves, etc.).
- Football - "Contact activities" are not permitted for football camps. Summer camps for football must remain instructional in nature and any scrimmage must be "touch" or "flag" football only.
For off-season non-school competitive leagues or camps (in which matches/games will be scheduled), 7-12th grade coaches may not "instruct" students from their attendance zones. The key difference here is the distinction between instructional camps and summer competitive leagues or camps (with scheduled games/matches). While school coaches may facilitate the competitive camps/leagues (general organization and supervision), they cannot be actively involved in instructing students in the sport. These regulations do not apply to regular summer "strength and conditioning" sessions that are held at school for students 7-12th grade. These short, informal sessions may not involve "instruction" in the sport and may not last longer than two hours per day Monday through Thursday. While coaches can take attendance for their own purposes, these sessions may not be required for participation or tryout for any UIL sport.
Coaches may be paid under the regular compensation schedule in the form of a stipend for their services during these school-sponsored camps. However, school coaches who run private summer camps or intensives for students in their attendance area should proceed with caution. Board Policy DBD (LOCAL) will outline your district's requirements with regard to employees endorsing or "selling" private goods or services in which they hold an interest. These private camps should not be advertised or promoted by district employees and should not be a requirement for continued participation on any team.
More information about UIL rules related to summer camps can be found at https://www.uiltexas.org/files/athletics/offseason-nonschool-participation.pdf.