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Young boy practices his tennis swing

One of the campers practices their swing. Each child receives a racket perfect for their size. Some children have been coming for so long that they have traded in their smaller rackets for larger ones!

Toe River Racqueteers Summer Camp Burnsville & Spruce Pine, NC

Mitchell & Yancey Counties 


Every summer, kids in Mitchell and Yancey Counties spend a week at tennis camp, where they develop skills that will help them stay active for the rest of their lives. This camp is the brain child of a local professional tennis coach who wanted to make sure every kid got the chance to play. He works with Partners Aligned Towards Health (PATH) to raise funds and coordinate the camp. High school volunteers, many of whom were trained by the coach, act as assistant coaches.

The kids are split into groups by age level, with 7-10 campers per two assistant coaches. The professional coach comes up with each day’s activities, and travels between groups to help kids develop their skills. Although everyone gets to play tennis, that is not the sole focus of this camp. Participants learn warm-ups that they can do year-round, play games that improve hand/eye coordination, and build stamina through jumping and running exercises.

The camp provides free, size-appropriate tennis rackets to any camper who does not have one or has outgrown their own racket. The only items campers are required to bring are closed toed shoes, water, sunscreen, and a smile on their face. An award ceremony is held at the end of the camp, and each child is recognized for something special the coaches noticed about them that week.

The camp started in Yancey County nine years ago with just a handful of campers, and now more than 100 kids participate. It has also expanded into neighboring Mitchell County to serve even more people. Many kids come back year after year, often bringing a friend along.

Hosting a summer sports camp is a great way to keep kids active and teach a new sport. Start by thinking about who in your area can teach the camp. Do you have a local soccer association or baseball club that would be willing to teach kids how to play? You will also need to find sponsors, decide dates and times, and plan each day’s activities.

The number one way this tennis camp gets participants is through word of mouth. Towards the end of each school year, PATH posts the registration page on Facebook and tags parents whose kids have participated before. Those parents often tag their friends, spreading the word quickly.

One thing to consider is transportation to and from the camp. At the tennis camps, many families carpool. The local transportation authority will also bring kids to and from the camp for a small fee.




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