There are several ID camps in the US that are based on identifying and recruiting high school and club soccer players. This article is a review of the costs and expectations a family will experience when attending the Future 500 ID Camp.
Getting noticed by NCAA Soccer coaches & recruiters is a difficult process. Because not only do you have to have useful highlight videos to share, but you also need to show that you have the skills and perseverance that every coach wants to see in their players. If you only play at the high school level and have never taken part in serious competition, then that doesn’t do a lot of good in showing off what you’re capable of.
That’s why we recommend that if you’re serious about soccer, that you should take part in a summer camp session. These camps are a great way to gain experience playing with and against a variety of players from inside and outside of your country. The best camps even have visiting coaches from top level universities and provide real help with preparing you for recruitment.
About Future 500 ID Camps
Future 500 ID Camps was founded in 1999 by Mark Wagner (president) whom along with his wife and brother own the company. It invites coaches from NCAA Division 1, 2, and 3 as well as NAIA. The program also hires youth club coaches as team managers at the event, with staff getting paid $200-$1200 for their instruction and/or team guidance at camp. The camp last 3 days (split across 4 days) and features training, gameplay and lectures. Future 500 purchases its apparel from Adidas Inc. with requirement to be the sole apparel sponsor. Additionally, Mark Wagner (President of future 500 ID camps) and Will Ahmed (CEO of WHOOP) signed an agreement in 2016 to enable campers to get training gear and uniforms from WHOOP company.
Future 500 ID camp recruits both boys and girls athlete through online registration and mass email marketing, where the applicants pay a non-refundable deposit of $275.00, at least 21 days before camp to book a slot. The remainder to pay the full camp fee ($800) is due prior to camp. Campers must provide proof of insurance. Apart from the registration, there is a $50 administrative fee and other varied charges depending on optional selection, including accommodation and food. Campers participate in education programming through seminars and outdoor activities. This is made possible through scheduled in-room and out-on-the-field program activities.
Facilities and Facilitators
The level of competition at the Future 500 ID camp is average as there are many players that attend each session. With 500-600 participants attending each week’s session, coaches see many players at once (similar to attending a showcase tournament), but they often complain that it can be difficult to meet anyone. With ~40-70 college coaches on site at a time, the player-coach ratio of about 10-15 players for every 1 coach. This is a nice way to get a feel for a big camp, but it can be hard for soccer players to get recruited from this event. While not the best for a college ID camp, Future 500 ID Camps does have the advantage of having more college coaches than most other events. This can be partially attributed to its effective staff as well as the facilities of the two college campuses the program is held on. These facilities includes gyms, turf and grass fields, accommodation and dinning centers, and well-built transport and communication infrastructures found in all camp sites. Future 500 ID soccer camps in Philadelphia are geographically located near a variety of east coast colleges (DI, DII, DIII) and Philadelphia International Airport for ease of transport to nearby states and the rest of the world. It has turf and grass field which is ample for training as well as conditioned accommodation which offers the campers a pleasant experience.
These facilities includes air conditioned dorm rooms as well as effective and efficient training facilities. Please be sure to bring your own bedding that you’d like to use and any room fresheners. This environment gives campers a lot of opportunity for rest and downtime that they need before the session the next day. Campers are split into groups as there are many competing to be seen at the same time. In a standard eight (8) hour day, it is anticipated that you will participate in about 2 hours of soccer training and gameplay (with remainder giving you time to relax by yourself or in your room). Commuter options are also given for those who wish to save a little money. The camps also have university-style cafeterias in both Cabrini and Eastern campuses (players will be split across the campuses) which offers good nutritive foods for the athletes. The meals offered are selected to suit the trainees needs while in the field and out of the field. They also have clean water to keep the players hydrated and in shape during sessions.
Future 500 ID Camps primarily focuses on showcase-style gameplay to allow this gigantic mass of campers to be seen by the handful of coaches on each field. It is supplemented by training sessions with local club coaches. These training sessions are in two categories: in-field and off-field and they are programmed in such a way that the on-field camper to staff ratio is 15:1 (about 50% of time is ‘on field’ and 50% is off field relaxing, eating, other indoor classroom sessions, and independent time). This ensures that the 500-600 attending campers can rotate through interaction with the college coaches. Athlete’s families can pay $200 additional fee to get access to the HD video footage of every camper to watch games.
F500 ID Camp Sponsors
Many camps boast that they prepare campers for athletic and academic success, but it’s rare to see a camp that has seen enough success that they have also gained international sponsorship. That’s definitely the case for the Future 500 ID Camp as they obtain nice financial deals from sponsors to help them be profitable. But let’s look at some of the sponsors that help make this camp what it is.
Founded in 1924, the Adidas corporation has provided sporting apparel for quite some time. So it’s clear that this is one company that cares about helping athletes perform at their very best. Their support of the Future 500 camps further demonstrates that commitment to excellence by helping to fund the equipment and contacts that allow the camp to host 75+ colleges every year.
In April 2016, the camp was proud to announce that it began accepting sponsorship with International soccer clubs, to include Esport Dubai, who received the prestigious Best Sport Youth Academy award for the entire Middle East. To have this academy participate in the Future 500 Adidas ID Camp means that campers will not only be able to experience higher level play for American Soccer, but will also be able to experience how soccer is played over seas. Other international clubs have joined along side Esport Dubai to enhance the value and benefits of joining this camp.
T3 Soccer is another related company owned by the Wagner family. These camps are relevant as they provide similar structure to Future 500, with full 11 aside games, training sessions , and introduction of technical and tactical concepts. This is another program that athletes can participate and pay fees to attend (without college coaches).
Aside from training and nice facilities to enable player fun, the camp includes educational recruiting seminars that teach students how to select colleges that fits ones expectations, and how to market oneself to colleges through advices by coaches from NCAA DI,DII,DIII and NAIA. These off pitch seminars let campers rest as well as give time to let the other campes rotate through the fields. Unfortunately, these sessions are designed just for the campers, so parents will need to request information after or before the camp. Among the motivational pep talks shared with the players are speeches by Mark Wagner, his wife and family, and their administrative staff. These programs are offered on a daily basis and supplement the training sessions allowing players to rotate so that not all 500-600 players compete at the same time.
Parent Lecture –There is one chance where the parents are involved in discussions together with the administrators & camp operators and can decide whether to purchase the additional services including SAT test prep, digital video of your child and food/drink packages at camp. Additional topics normally include the recruiting process, process of college admission, financial aid and scholarship for kids, choosing the right college for your child, as well as an lengthy Q&A. This is meant to create a lasting bond between the parents and the administrators of Future 500 camp.
Afternoon Seminar Series– This session is carried out in the afternoon and involves only campers (rotating between on and off field). The key learning objective is to motivate the campers through engaging pep talks led by administrators and coaches. In addition, Future 500 offers a nutrition session on how to fuel one’s body for competition through proper food intake before, during, and after the game. A well-nourished body has proper reflexes which give ample competitive in a field game. They also give campers a roadmap to build physical strength and power all year round for soccer. And for academics, they give advice for players to take SAT/ACT test and learn how to balance between soccer and academics respectively. These off-field sessions are the easiest way to ensure all 600 competing campers get equal opportunity to play in the games.
Evening Speaker Series – Unlike the afternoon session which is focused on classroom teaching, this session is more interactive, talking about the life of a student-athlete.
Who’s allowed to come?
The camp is open enrollment to both boys and girls, with girls being allowed from grades 8-12 and boys from grades 9-12. There is no restriction on ability so novices, intermediate and other campers are welcome to pay the fees to attend. The camps are only limited by grade level, age, gender, and number of spaces available.
While the marketing emphasizes that space is limited, they seem to accept enrollment up through the day before camp. They provide many coupons and early bird savings throughout the entire spring and summer. These savings are often listed directly on their website and remain throughout the summer. As Future 500 Camp accepts to 600+ campers, you can enroll at any point to get your spot.
Which Colleges Show Up?
The Future 500 ID Camp typically pays 75 colleges from NCAA Divisions 1, 2, and 3 to attend. These colleges will rotate through camp, typically attending one day of the camp. They bring coaches who will watch a particular field at camp and observe the 600 campers. F500 rotates these coaches as it allows them to save money on hiring these observing coaches.
For a full list of the colleges available during a particular session, you should check out their boys and girls camp sessions lists for more details. If you know which colleges you’re interested in joining, please email the coach to confirm they are truly attending and let the school know you are interested.
What is the Camp Experience Like?
Because only amateur athletes are welcomed to college athletic scholarships, the Future 500 ID Camp has a focus on both athletics and academics. So while you are in attendance, you’ll be playing average quality games and taking part in some training sessions. There will also be seminars available to help you relax (and allow other campers to get their game time) as well as help you understand what’s expected from you as an future college student.
This camp also hosts sessions targeted towards parents, with sessions relating to gaining financial aid or what extra services to purchase to help your camper be best prepared for the collegiate road ahead.
Recent Review / Testimonial:
Posted on Message Board (2017): “My kid’s experience — which may not be applicable to others — ranged from “mixed” to “not worth it.” At least in the summer of ’15, Future 500 was a games-only format, no team practices, with a couple of skills sessions. Kids were assigned to teams and had a dedicated coach who stayed with them throughout camp. College coaches were designated to watch specific games, and if a coach were not assigned to watch a specific game, they could roam and watch kids who had reached out to them, or someone they were interested in. As best I recall, they played 1-2 times a day. Each day there were several “all star” teams, which played at night, and everyone else watched. It was strictly a recruiting camp, and the younger kids seemed almost beside the point. There were a couple of juniors and seniors who impressed everyone, right away, and had D1 programs expressing interest. Most players were chatting with D3 coaches. With each individual player trying to impress, there was not a big incentive for team play and building play. If it were me, I would not send a 9th grader, and only a 10th grader if they were a realistic D1 prospect who would not get sufficient exposure through their Club (which is very unlikely, I imagine).”
Is it hard to get there?
When you sign up to take part in this camp, you have to pay an upfront non-refundable deposit of $275 to secure a spot. After that, you are expected to pay the remaining balance 21 days before the first day of camp with late fees being charged if you miss that 21 day before deadline.
Once you pay, you’ll have to arrange transportation to one of their locations; Florida or Philadelphia, but both camps allow over night dorms for campers. The Florida location though would have you staying at a nearby hotel. Part of the package deal though is having commuter transportation to and from the site, so you won’t have to worry about getting lost in traffic, especially if you aren’t a resident of one of those two cities.
If you need a shuttle though, be sure that you or your guardians ask what are the current fees. At the time of writing the round trip shuttle fee is $60 to pick you up from the airport and take you to camp.
The camp does this because they want to lower the barrier of entry as much as possible so that if you have the desire to become a soccer player through the Future 500 ID Camp program, that you have exactly that opportunity.
Are there dorms? What’s camp life like?
The Philadelphia location does have dormitories that students can use at the end of the day or in between seminars and games if you sign up for them. Many parents appreciate this since it gives first hand experience on showing a camper what living in Dorms at colleges can be like. Some parents though have been concerned about the excessive downtime given the fee. If you sign up for camp with a close friend, you and your friend can request to be placed in a room together. You just have to make sure to send your request no later than 14 days before camp.
Food will be provided to campers and adjustments can be made if you have any allergy or dietary requirements.
Finally, if you have signed up for an extra session (additional fee required), such as speed and agility training sessions, or specific field position training, then you will be able to participate in those activities to maximize the benefits of participation. At the time of writing, specific field position training is only available at the Philadelphia camps.
What do campers say about the experience?
There’s a lot to be said about the benefits of this camp, but you can’t get any more genuine a reaction than ones straight out of the campers. Thankfully the camp provides a testimonial page with comments that express gratitude and support for the lessons learned from this camp. As of the time of this writing, there are only two (2) reviews of this camp on Google and they disallow facebook users from rating their camp on Facebook (0 reviews).
With a good administrator, family supported company (his wife is involved), and relationship with club and college coaches, the future 500 ID camps has grown into the largest attended camper event (500-600 campers vying for attention). Coaches attending appreciate the opportunity to get paid and be able to watch games. For further details, visit the boys or girls Future 500 ID Camp listings below to see if it’s a fit for you.