June 06, 2017 3:45PM
The last students from the spring semester had just packed and moved out of Pittsburg State University’s residence halls when the hall staff began preparing the buildings for the thousands of new residents -- high school students who come to PSU to participate in a variety of athletic camps every June and July.
This year, volleyball, baseball, softball, track and field, men’s and women’s basketball, and football will all hold camps for individual players, teams, or both. Organizers say the camps are an educational experience for the students and also an important recruiting tool for the university. The camps are also good for the local economy.
Altogether, about 2,300 students are expected to live in university housing for this summer’s camps. Additional students and their parents drive in from nearby communities or stay in local motels.
B.J. Harris, executive director of the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the camps bring many people to town who otherwise wouldn’t be here.
“We’re glad to have them (the camps),” Harris said. “It fills a time of the year when we need events to take place and we’re fortunate that they (the coaches) take that on.”
PSU football camps have been popular for many decades. This year, more than 900 student athletes are expected for the multiple football camps. But other sports camps also have been growing in popularity in recent years.
Lane Lord, head coach for PSU women’s basketball, held his first camp about 10 years ago.
“The first summer, we started with 16 high school teams, mostly from the surrounding area like Pittsburg, Frontenac and Girard,” Lord said. “Now the camp has grown to have 138 schools.”
Lord holds two high school team camps and one grade school camp. This year, the high school camps combined have more than 1,300 participants. When coaches and families are added, the camps bring an estimated 3,000 people to Pittsburg over a two-week period. The grade school camp brings another 400 to 500 campers and parents to town.
The growth of the camps helped Lord and Amanda Davied, head assistant women’s basketball coach, receive a grant from the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
The grant helped develop an exit survey to be given to all of the coaches who come to the camp. Information gathered includes whether they stayed in a hotel or the university dorms, whether they ate in the dining hall or restaurants on and around campus, and what other activities or businesses they went to while being in town.
“The grant allows us to see exactly how much economic impact the camp has on the university and on the community,” said Lord.
Although the economic impact is significant, Lord, the other coaches and the university are more concerned with the impression Pittsburg State leaves on the camp participants and their parents.
“Once they come to camp, they come back every year because of the way we run the camps and the way people treat them around campus and the community,” Lord said. “They have a good time at Pittsburg State. We believe that’s something they’ll remember when it’s time to choose where to continue their academic career.”
Team Camp – June 7, 8 & 9 or June 14, 15 & 16
Grade School Camp – 19, 20 & 21
Gorilla Shootout Camp – June 2 & 3
Individual Skill #1 Camp – June 5 & 6
Individual Skill #2 Camp – July 10, 11 & 12
All Skills Camp – June 12 & 13
Positional Training Camp – June 17
Little Gorilla Camp – June 22 & 23
Team Camp – July 13, 14 & 15
Elite Camp – July 17, 18 & 19
Transfer Camp – May 2 & 26, June 12
Gorilla for a Day Camp – May 30, June 7 & July 27
High School Skills Camp – May 31
Pitching & Catching Camp – June 1
Youth Skill Camp – June 6
Beginning/Advanced Pitching Camp – June 5
Junior Gorilla Camp – June 12, 13 & 14
Gorilla Showcase – June 19
Track & Field:
Pole Vault Camp – June 16, 17 & 18
Hurdles Camp – June 19, 20 & 21
O-Line/D-Line Camp – June 13
Option/Passing Camp – June 15 & 16
Team Camp – June 4, 5 & 6 or June 8, 9 & 10
Senior Showcase – June 2