Looking for a summer plan for your kids that promises more than fun?

Consider the popular UC Irvine Sports Camps, where participants play baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, track and field, volleyball and water polo, all run by top NCAA Division I coaches and athletes. These camps focus on sports training and also weave in essential life skills development. More than 2,800 youth athletes participated last year.

We spoke with Gerald D. Parham, director of program development, UCI Intercollegiate Athletics, to find out what sets the summer camps apart.

What is the philosophy behind UCI sports camps?

We’re not just teaching sports; we’re instilling lifelong values through sports. The foundation of our programs is the CLEAR Academy, which stands for Character, Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Responsibility. We aim to begin nurturing these qualities at a young age, helping children make better decisions as they grow.

How do you incorporate these values into your camps?

Every camp session is an opportunity to embed our core values. Our coaches and camp counselors are trained to not only teach sports but also to engage actively with each participant about the daily themes, like character and leadership. This isn’t common in many sports camps, where the focus might strictly be on the sport itself. We ensure that our activities are intentional in teaching character – whether it’s teaching kids to carry their own equipment or playing their best or listening actively to their coaches.

Are there any extra benefits for families?

We offer extended care (7:30 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5:30 p.m. on camp days) at no additional charge for parents who need flexibility in their schedules. This allows us to keep the kids engaged in meaningful activities throughout the day, ensuring they are learning and having fun until they are picked up.

Visit ucirvinesports.com and click “camps” to sign up.