OT Karolyi's camp: my personal experience 2015

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Jun 26, 2013
Hi, my name is Erin. I'm writing this because I couldn't find it anywhere else and I know that last summer I could have used a resource like this when I was going to camp and seeing what it was like. I hope this helps someone. Thanks!
First of all, and this is really important, you're going to want to remember that you ARE in Texas. In other words, it's going to be really hot. Fortunately, the gym is air conditioned, and I don't know about the cabins but as for the gym rooms, they are all air conditioned too. Also, there's a lot of mosquitoes. Be prepared. Bring bug spray!!
Moving on to the actual timeline of events, I'll start with the first day.
On the first day, my mom drove to the ranch. The road is pretty rural. It's the right road. Trust me.
After we got to the ranch, someone told us where to park. We unloaded our luggage and then we went to a building where there were a lot of people in line to check in ( I think that's where we were assigned our gym room too). After we checked in, we got in another line to hand in our "camp fund" (this is basically a certain amount of money that your parents can give the camp so you can spend it on things like t shirts, "Bela Bears", leotards, tape, etc.). Then we got in line to talk to the camp nurse. I'm pretty sure she just asked about any pre-existing medical conditions and allergies, and also any medications. There is an option where you can get to have her take your medicine and give it to you every day so you don't forget, but I knew I wouldn't forget to take it so I just kept it.
When we were all checked in, I think someone took our luggage up to the cafeteria, which is where we walked with a small group of people and a coach who was guiding us. When we got to the cafeteria, some of the coaches helped us to get our bags to the cabin (which was in the gym since we were in the gym rooms). It was a lot cooler there. We met our counselor, Nicole, and we got set up. All of the top bunks were taken, so we all had to get bottom bunks. A bit later, we got ready for our first practice (which was really only the second half of what we'd be doing every day minus conditioning). Before we got started, we were divided into 18 "lines". These were basically groups of gymnasts assigned by skill level (all he asked us about was out back tumbling skills). I'm not sure if I'm remembering it right, but first he asked who was working layouts, fulls, and double fulls (basically skills harder than layouts) and formed three lines (18, 17, 16). After, he asked about who was working tucks, and formed lines 10, 11, and 12. This was where we (my sister, our friend, and I) were placed, and we all sort of clustered together so that we could get into the same line. He did the same for roundoff multiple back handsprings, roundoff back handsprings, roundoffs, and then I think maybe cartwheels? Anyways, after being out in our lines, the girls in lines 16+ went to the back gym and the girls in lines maybe 6 and below (I'm not sure) went to the beginner gym. We then did our warm ups which were led by the coaches, and it was a dance warm up, and you have to yell during it. We went to our stations which we would do in the afternoon. I also think it's important to note that after each station when it was time to rotate, we did a dance. Ours was to Uptown Funk, and if you're worried about learning a dance, don't worry because it was very simple to pick up and the coaches will be doing it in front of you. Then they will tell you what station you're going to. There are six stations in total: vault, bars, beam, floor, trampoline, and dance (where you actually do learn a dance routine that's a bit more complicated). Then we went to dinner. There was a really long line so you'll want to run when you're dismissed. The food isn't really that bad, it's just regular camp food (like what you might find in a school cafeteria). Afterwards we went to our cabin and got ready for "splash night". Splash night was basically going to the pool. At first they told us it was required to go but then they said it wasn't, we went anyways and it was a ton of fun. We went for not that long before heading back to our cabin and taking a shower. The next day, we woke up and got ready for gym and then we went to breakfast (if you don't have snacks it's a good idea to get some extra cereals when you're at breakfast) from where we went straight to gym and did three events and then conditioning (which was really pretty light, just fairly easy abs and a few sets of leg lifts and handstand conditioning). Then we went to lunch and we had a little more time to go to the pool or get ready for gym if we didn't want to. We worked out after that, and did more conditioning, then went to dinner. I think that night was talent night, where you could enter the show to win a pie (but more on that later). Almost every day went something like that, but we always did something different each night.
Other things to point out:
- Every night had a different activity. I think that they all were splash night, talent night, contest night, lake night, and skit night.
-Whenever you win any type of contest at camp, you get a pie. A pie is a pie tin full of whipped cream that you get to throw at the coaches on lake night.
-Every day before going to lunch and dinner, there is a contest for "cleanest cabin" and the winners get to go to lunch/dinner before anyone else. The dirtiest cabin has to stand up in front of the entire camp while the others yell, "CLEAN YOUR CABIN!"
-*IMPORTANT* There is spotty cell service at best. There is no wifi and no service at the gym. There is some reception by the pool.
-The coaches spot you really heavily, especially if you're trying a new skill. You really don't have anything to worry about as far as falling.
-It is a lot more fun to go with a friend or teammate. You'll get to have someone to do things with and you can always still make friends.
-If you want to work on harder skill that you normally couldn't do at your gym, now's the time. The coaches will spot you on pretty much anything as long as it's reasonable. (Ex. I was a new level 5 in the spring but at camp I got to work on my half and strap Giants which I had never done before).
-At least when I went, we didn't get to visit the petting zoo. It was disappointing because we were very excited about it too. We did see a peacock on multiple occasions and a pony once. We also got chased by a camel.
Overall, I am so glad I went to Karolyi's camp. It was an awesome experience and I had so much fun. I hope this helps you if you're thinking of going. I would recommend it to any gymnast especially if they've got a friend to go with.
I enjoyed reading this thread as it brought back memories of my experience at Karolyi's. It sounds like things haven't changed much, except for the song between rotations we used "Beat It". I went three years in a row, and I loved it. However, I think there are a few negative aspects that are important for people to know.
My first year was not a great experience at all. Although we requested for my teammate and I to be in the same cabin well before the deadline, we were not. They put each of us in a separate cabin in which every other person in the cabin was from the same team. Talk about feeling left out. That year, the food was borderline inedible, and I didn't know to bring snacks. They underestimated the number of campers and didn't have enough food for everybody. One night I was given a hamburger bun and a ketchup-sized packet of jelly for dinner. I spent the entire week hungry. Additionally, there was a TERRIBLE stomach bug running rampant in the camp. By the last two nights, the sick cabins were completely full, and there were four girls vomiting in my cabin all night long. In the gym, the area that injured and sick girls sit during training was full to the brim. Other than that, I did enjoy the gym time, and I loved the coaches. The evening activities were all fun. My least favorite was probably Splash Night at the pool. It was too crowded and pretty unsafe, as there are hundreds of kids in one fairly small pool all at once. There are giant floats as well. I got stuck under the floats a few times, and nobody ever noticed. It would be so easy for somebody to slip underwater unnoticed.
My second year was so much better! The food had improved a lot, a whole group from my team went (and was placed in the same cabin), and we knew to bring snacks. It was also July 4th when we went, and they did fireworks for the first time, which was VERY cool. The evening activities are exactly the same each year, so that was a little less fun.
My third year was better than the first, but worse than the second. The AC in the gym wasn't working properly, so it was in the 90s inside where we were working out. I still had a great time though!
Overall, I would recommend Karolyi's camp for older girls but not any little ones. The supervision is very limited. Between training, there's about a two hour period where the gymmies are free to do whatever. The only "supervision" is telling your cabin counselor where you are going. There are always lifeguards at the pool, but around a few of the cabins is an unsupervised lake that could easily be fallen into. Additionally, kids can easily wander off into the trees and get lost and end up on some remote area of the ranch. I loved my experience there, but I would caution any parents considering sending a young child without a coach or older teammates.
@flippinam Yes my experience was actually pretty similar to that. I went with my sister and our friend (who is closer to my sister) and so I kind of ended up third wheeling it. I'm a bit older than the both of them and they usually wanted to go back to the cabin before I did so I was pretty lonely after they went in. I agree that it's better for older kids since you get so much freedom. You really can just roam around freely and it can be easy to get lost since there is no real firm supervision after hours. I definitely think I would have had a better experience if I had another teammate to go with. I think that going with a big group from our team would be really fun. Also, I don't think there was any kind of illness going around, but I don't do well in the heat and was running a mild fever by the second or third day. Also, when we went there were a bunch of gymnasts from Hungary. Now, I never actually saw this myself, although my roommate and my counselor said they did, but I heard that at night all the Hungarians go and train together. I still don't know if this is true. Also, while we were there, I thought that Bela was going to be actually coaching us at least a little bit maybe if even for just one rotation. Yeah. That never happened. It wasn't like what I expected and most of the time that was good, but there were some disappointments. Fireworks sound AWESOME, by the way. That would make for a very cool Instagram post.
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