Hello! My 2020 attended both the Stanford All Star Camp and the Duke University Elite Camp this summer. I just wanted to write a little bit about each camp and his experience there, based on what I saw and my conversations with my son. TL;DR version? The Stanford experience was better.
I have previously written a little bit about Stanford so I may rehash a little bit here. One note - although he attended the camp to get "exposure", at this point I have no real expectation that my son will have either the academic credentials or the baseball chops to: 1) get admitted to these elite academic institutions; and 2) be considered a D1 Power 5 quality player. He attended for fun, to get better, and for the experience. After his junior year, academically and athletically, we'll take stock and figure out some realistic schools and target them if pursuing baseball is something he wants.
Towards that end, let's address the biggest elephant in the room: COST. The Stanford Camp cost $1,100 while the Duke Camp cost $690. For that money you got ROUGHLY, and in the most basic terms, the same thing: three nights room in a dorm, three days of meals, a hat, a personalized shirt, games and instruction. Not going to address this much further, but I believe this did have one VERY NOTABLE effect: the high cost of Stanford seemed to cause campers and their families to "self select" out, in terms of pretty much the only people willing to shell out the $1,100 were people who seemed to be good players - there weren't really many "warm body and a checkbook" campers at Stanford, so the quality of play in the games was MUCH higher.
BASEBALL FACILITIES: STANFORD
Stanford Camp games were played at Sunken Diamond, Duke games at Jack Coombs Field. Sunken Diamond is an immaculately maintained baseball stadium. Good seats, outfield grass looks good, dirt and mound were good. Coombs Field is an all turf field, with the exception of the mound. The grandstand is the same one there in the 1980s, unchanged. (To be fair, Duke now plays 80% of its home games at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the home field of the AAA Durham Bulls. The campers were bussed there for a tour of that facility. It is not walking distance, so in essence Duke plays its home games off campus. I wonder how many students actually go?) With the exception of a few early season games (probably before DBAP gets opened up for the minor league season) Jack Coombs Field is now a practice facility.
Both had batting cages attached to the park. Stanfords were a bit bigger and nicer. The kids used them.
Duke also showed the campers around other baseball facilities - the weight room, training table, video review facilities. The boys worked out each day in the baseball weight room. They did not eat in the athletic dining room though. They also got to see the baseball locker room, which was not really close to the park. The campers were promised "access to the clubhouse and locker rooms" which implied to me that they'd be able to hang out there when on break or between games. No clubhouse that I saw, locker rooms were far away, and other than the tour, no access. So you got to see more of the facilities at Duke. I had no report on Stanford's training table or weight room, so not basis for comparison here.
I don't know the years of construction, but I suspect Duke's were newer. Parents were not allowed in the dorms at Stanford, so I never saw my son's room. He was in a four person room, which he said was one of the larger ones. Other quads were smaller. Stanford had no AC but the weather was quite moderate. The lines for showers were long, perhaps because one of the bathrooms on his floor was converted for use of some female counselors for a women's volleyball camp happening at the same time. Vending machine's were plentiful. Duke's rooms were double occupancy. I DID see those. Floors were carpeted and there was ample storage space. The dorms were air conditioned. Shorter lines for showers, but fewer vending machines. Both seemed the same distance from the baseball fields.
I never saw Stanford's dining hall. My son said that it was nice. Food was plentiful but options were more limited than he would have liked. Duke's dining hall (which I saw) was more like a deluxe food court, with stations on two levels where you could get almost any type of food you desired. However, you were limited to one bite at the apple, so to speak. No going back for seconds at Duke, which is tough on growing boys. So Duke wins on quality, but Stanford on quantity.
The campers were kept MUCH busier at Duke, which was pretty regimented from walk up to lights out. There were a lot more stations and variety of activities. However, the actual instruction given was better at Stanford. My son is primarily a pitcher. He said at Stanford he met every day and worked with a pitching coach in a small group for 45 minutes. At Duke pitching was with a much larger group and consisted of drills, not really instruction.
The games were MUCH better at Stanford, in quality and quantity. Duke promised four games, but only delivered two. Stanford promised and delivered three. Duke's games lasted an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, and lasted 4-5 innings. Stanford's games were roughly two hours and lasted 8-9 innings. Stanford had announcers, working scoreboard and pictures on the jumbotron. Pitch speeds were shown on the jumbotron. Duke had nothing. Stanford had umpires. Duke had a coach calling balls and strikes from behind the mound. Stanford groomed the field and mound after each game. Duke had turf field but dirt mound, and after the first game threw a turf patch over the mound so that they didn't have to maintain it and the pitchers had no purchase to push off of. At Stanford they played a different team each game. At Duke they played the same team both games. And as I mentioned before, the quality of play was much higher, and more consistent across the board, at Stanford.
I admit this one is kind of hard to quantify, and going more on gut here. At Stanford if coaches were not coaching a game they were behind a screen behind home plate watching the players. They had note pads out and were sitting within view of a radar gun. There were other coaches, not teaching, in the stands taking notes as well. At Duke the coaches did not usually watch games other than their own - because while two teams were playing most of the rest were pretty much running stations, so they couldn't really watch. I did see some watching, but it was nothing as organized or consistent as Stanford.
Duke spoke with the kids about recruiting. Parents weren't a part of that. I don't know if Stanford did.
I did hear some discussions going on at Duke - one coach being very careful as it wasn't September 1st, but indicating to a parent, who initiated the inquiry, that his son was someone they were watching. I did not speak to any coaches at Stanford, but I did speak to some at Duke. They said they mostly attended HeadFirst events, as they were more focused on the high academic kids.
I hate to say it, as I had very high hopes for Duke, but Stanford's camp was just better. Taking cost out of the equation, Stanford just ran a better program. Duke overpromised (promised 4 games, gave two, promised access to clubhouse and lockerrooms, didn't deliver, said batting helmets were available, and they weren't) and underdelivered. The competition and instruction were better at Stanford. The field was nicer. The games were better. Duke fooled me also with the busy schedule, but quantity doesn't beat quality. The boys had more free time at Stanford, but I guess that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
As I said earlier, and it bears repeating - at least to myself? - that we weren't there this summer for recruiting purposes. It was to check out what these camps were about, learn and have fun. so that next year, when we are really focused, he's comfortable with these camps and can focus on making the best impression possible.