Gymnastics is an ever-growing sport, and NCAA Gymnastics is quickly on the rise, gaining more and more exposure every year. For aspiring gymnasts, one of the best ways to begin to introduce themselves to colleges is by attending the camps that many collegiate programs host over the summer.

Besides being a way for an athlete to get their name out for recruitment purposes, these camps are designed to give campers top-level coaching in a high-energy, fun environment that inspires them to work hard to be like the gymnasts surrounding them.

College gymnastics summer camps provide a unique experience for those attending as the campers are able to meet and interact with college coaches and athletes in a non-stressful environment. Campers get the chance to make important connections and learn from some of the very best in the gymnastics world, while at the same time putting themselves on the radar of their dream schools.

One of the most popular college gymnastics camps is hosted by the University of Alabama, whose women’s gymnastics program boasts six national championship titles and is consistently one of the best in the country. 

Alabama’s gymnastics camp is three days long, and the campers are given incredible coaching by not only the Alabama team coaches, but also student-athletes and other coaches brought in by the program to give the campers the best experience possible. With days typically beginning with fun, unconventional warmups and ending with an open gym, the gymnasts attending camp are able to work hard and improve while having fun and gaining new experiences.

Many of the athletes attending camp are able to learn new skills and are pushed to go out of their comfort zone as they practice in a new environment. One of the campers favorite gym activities was learning group dances, as different practice groups learned dances ranging from ballroom to hip-hop to perform at the final day showcase. This showcase is a fun event featuring an award ceremony for “campers of the week”, performance of the group dances, and an open gym where gymnasts can show off to their parents what they have learned over the course of the weekend. Many camp attendees also take the opportunity to take pictures with their favorite Alabama gymnasts and coaches along with the friends they made at the camp. 

Dana Duckworth and Aja Sims sit and talk with gymnastics campers at the Alabama Gymnastics Summer Camp in Tuscaloosa, Alabama/Ben Smith

It is extremely evident while watching the campers practice that they are inspired by those surrounding them. Alabama’s gymnastics camp begins with all attending getting the opportunity to take a picture with head coach Dana Duckworth and even a few of Alabama’s SEC and National Championship trophies! Members of Alabama’s gymnastics team spoke to all of those attending camp and offered them advice, with all of the campers hanging on to every word. With many of the current and former team members coaching and walking around the camp, attendees are able to meet and work with some of their role models.

Being able to train at Alabama’s gym where so many incredible gymnasts have trained before is extremely exciting for everyone in attendance, especially as many of the campers have grown up watching Crimson Tide gymnastics. Being around greatness seems to motivate everyone to accomplish greatness themselves, and the encouraging atmosphere in the gym at Alabama seems to push everyone to constantly strive for improvement.

Camp gives gymnasts a break from their routine practice schedule at their home gyms and allows them to be newly inspired. Alabama’s camp seems to have the perfect balance of hard work and fun that makes it easy to love doing gymnastics. 

Another aspect of the Alabama camp that makes it such a great experience is that attendees have the option of staying in the college dorms, giving campers a feel for the university and a college-like experience if they choose to do so. Both day and overnight campers get the chance to spend time at the recreational pool one night after the gym, and many of the campers are able to form lasting friendships with each other.

One of the favorite parts of camp for many overnight campers is an Alabama camp tradition: the door decorating contest. Campers are supplied with art supplies and work to decorate the door to their dorm after coming home from the gym at night, with many returning campers even bringing supplies from home to make their door as vibrant as possible. Some groups decided to go for themes such as space or castles and others kept it simple. All of the campers have a great time bonding with their roommates for the weekend and expressing their creativity as they wind down from long days of gymnastics. 

Alabama Gymnastics coaches and gymnasts watch on and coach campers on the balance beam at the Alabama Gymnastics Summer Camp in Tuscaloosa, Alabama/Ben Smith

In just three days, Alabama’s college camp provides gymnasts the opportunity to showcase their gymnastics to college coaches, receive advice and motivation from some of their role models, and have fun while meeting fellow gymnasts from all over the country.

With many camps similar to it held all over the country, gymnasts of all levels could majorly benefit from attending. For any aspiring gymnast, especially those who dream of competing in NCAA Gymnastics, attending a college gymnastics camp like the University of Alabama’s will likely be the highlight of the summer!

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