Officiating Camps

It’s that time of year when officials make decisions about attending officiating camps during the Spring and Summer.  To be clear, I’m talking about optional, commercial camps; not the Conference required camps where you are required to attend in order to become certified.  I’m talking about pay “to go to” camps.  Should you go to one, are they worth the money, will they make you better?  Maybe.  I have attended one camp as a camper and was hired into the Big Sky Conference three weeks after the camp.  Bart Longson and Ryan Dickson watched their careers spring board after attending camps.  Others, they have spent more money on camps than they will make in any officiating career and they are still not hired.  Lets analyze.

 

There are two major benefits of attending camps; networking, and skill improvement.  Networking gives you the opportunity to “rub shoulders” with other officials and Conference Supervisors who get to watch you work and perhaps put you “on the radar.”  Rather than hear about you or take someone else’s word, they get to see you first hand.  That may work for you, that may work against you.  If you’re ready to be looked at, it is good, if you are really, really new, perhaps you want to wait to be seen.  If you are going to a camp to network, and your skills are ready to be put to work, I would say by all means, attending a camp or two is good.  Keep in mind, networking with a BCS Conference Supervisor or NFL Official during your first year of officiating and you first year at a camp may not have the networking results for which you are hoping.  Networking is fun, to say the least, but how it will REALLY benefit depends on you, your situation, and the Supervisors' situation.  After you are “on the radar”, how many times can the Supervisors look at you?  Either they hire you or they don’t.

 

If you are going to learn new skills, the newer you are to officiating the better.  The skill level taught at these camps range from the rookie to the veteran.  The problem is the quality of football being played.  Typically, due to the time of year camps are held, these are lower level high school players and they have been there for a few days, the weather is hot, and the quality of snaps is poor.  Also, amps are typically over attended with campers so if you get snaps, they are usually few.  Sure, there are usually big name staff at these camps to teach and demonstrate, but actually working game type situations is rare if ever.  So, at some point, the level of instruction you receive diminishes based on your skill set.  You can keep going back to camps and working other positions, but at some point, you have all the instructing they offer.  Camps are not like S&H Green Stamps and you can cash them in for a job later.  At some point, you have to weight the money spent v. the level of instruction received.

 

Where can you get competitive snaps, a lot of snaps, relevant instruction, and just a little networking?  In other words, high on octane, low on fluff?  Hmmmmmmm, let’s think about that one.

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