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.

DORMITORIES: DUKE

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.

FOOD: TIE

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.

INSTRUCTION: STANFORD

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.

GAMES: STANFORD

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.

RECRUITING: 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.

SUMMARY

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.

 

Original Post

Thanks for the detailed review! My son (2020) has attended the Stanford camp two summers in a row. We have found the quality of the program to be top notch and he's had an awesome experience. He will be attending Head First in Arizona in the fall, however that may not be as comparable as it is shorter and they do not stay on campus. We have heard that interaction with coaches is very good at Head First and since he will be in his recruiting "contact period", that will be interesting...

BBMomAZ posted:

Thanks for the detailed review! My son (2020) has attended the Stanford camp two summers in a row. We have found the quality of the program to be top notch and he's had an awesome experience. He will be attending Head First in Arizona in the fall, however that may not be as comparable as it is shorter and they do not stay on campus. We have heard that interaction with coaches is very good at Head First and since he will be in his recruiting "contact period", that will be interesting...

I think they are two entirely different things. I think that while Stanford is a camp that teaches and showcases talent to the coaches that are there, Head First will be more of a traditional showcase - not so much teaching but rather measuring skills and showcasing talent with no teaching or instruction going on. While I don't think Stanford will make its reviews or evaluations available to any outsider, Head First will make their numbers available to any coach that asks for it (possible subscription fee aside).

My son attended the Stanford camp 20 years ago and it was a fantastic experience. He was a D1 quality player with a 4.3 GPA. Even back then the competition and quality of instruction at this camp was outstanding. My son did very well at the camp and was recruited by several high academic schools based on his performance at the camp. So the coaches that attended this camp actually are looking for prospects. 

My '22 just did a Stanford Holiday 80 camp for pitchers and catchers.  Instructional focus, capped at 80 players (hence the name). Two 5-6 hr sessions, well run with good coach and player interaction, and terrific instruction.  Offense was 3-4 guys at a station with a coach or player present (mix of Stanford and local schools).   Good option for those on the west coast.  Mostly 20s and 21s, as one might expect.  

Despite my avatar, I was quite impressed 

We are planning to do Duke next summer.  

4arms posted:

Thanks for the review Norcalbbdad.   We are planning to attend one of the Duke Prospect camps and Duke is much closer for us.  Even though you preferred the Stanford camp, was the coach to player ratio decent at the Duke camp?

I think the coach to player ratio was OK at Duke. It wasn't something I was actively thinking about at the time, but I did follow the groups around as they moved through their drill stations and it did seem like there were a lot of kids in each group. Not sure how many coaches. I traveled to Duke with my son and had nothing to do so I watched almost everything there. We live about an hour and change away from Stanford so I really only there for the games and didn't really monitor the teaching aspect of the camp. It was a good experience, but it was much more of a "baseball camp" than Stanford, which really had more of a showcase feel to it. I hope that you and your son enjoy it!

What a great, detailed summary of the camps! 

My two cents: The two camps are different animals. Stanford camp is a place where lots of high academic and other D1 coaches participate as coaches for the player teams for the purpose of recruiting, while unless I am mistaken, the Duke camp is staffed by Duke coaches only. 

My son went to Duke, and the then Duke coaching staff first saw him at the Stanford Camp. Interestingly, they did not approach him at the camp - only coaches that are officially participating in the camp are allowed to approach and talk to the players. So they called him a few days later on July 1. That means there are likely other schools watching the Stanford Camp games than the coaches that are listed as participating.

The Stanford Camp was terrific, and obviously life changing for my son. I would expect the Duke camp is pretty much like all the other college team run camps - they do it mostly for $$ and they obviously hope a real prospect or two attends, but it is not entirely for recruiting.

Obviously the mystique of Duke does get some campers there. And that locker room - it's in Cameron Indoor, adjacent to the visitor locker room. My son laughed about getting done with practice, which was often right at half time of the basketball game, and listening to the opposing coach chew out his players. 

 

 

 

OskiSD posted:

My '22 just did a Stanford Holiday 80 camp for pitchers and catchers.  Instructional focus, capped at 80 players (hence the name). Two 5-6 hr sessions, well run with good coach and player interaction, and terrific instruction.  Offense was 3-4 guys at a station with a coach or player present (mix of Stanford and local schools).   Good option for those on the west coast.  Mostly 20s and 21s, as one might expect.  

Despite my avatar, I was quite impressed 

We are planning to do Duke next summer.  

Please let us know your thoughts on the Duke camp this year!

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