Montreat, North Carolina, is set to welcome pickleball enthusiasts from all across the nation this September for the highly anticipated annual series of camps organized by the Suncoast Pickleball Association.
Suncoast Pickleball Camps
Established in Florida in 2016 by Russell Elefterion, the Suncoast Pickleball camps stand as a unique offering as the sole residential camps of their kind in the country.
The comprehensive package includes five nights of accommodation at the Montreat Conference Center, meals, and professional pickleball instruction. Participants can also engage in social activities during the evenings as part of the camp experience.
Montreat is about 85 miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Dates For Upcoming Camps
The upcoming camps are scheduled for three separate sessions:
- September 1-6
- September 10-15
- September 17-22
While the first camp caters to advanced players, the latter two are designed as intensive boot camps. Notably, two successful camps were also held in May earlier this year.
For those considering participation, the cost structure is as follows:
- Instruction only with a shirt and daily lunch: $799
- Weekly off-campus rate, inclusive of meals and socials: $899
- Weekly rate per person based on double occupancy: $1,099
- Weekly rate for a single room: $1,399
- Weekly rate for a couple with one non-participant, covering room and meals for both: $1,699
- The weekly rate for couples with both individuals participating: $2,198
An Intimate Learning Environment
The capacity for each camp is limited to 64 players, ensuring an intimate learning environment. Elefterion noted that this year’s quotas had been fully booked: a total of 320 participants.
This growth is notable, considering that in 2022, 256 attendees joined the five camps.
Elefterion proudly asserted that his camps pioneered the concept in the sport. “I’m the leader or the pioneer in camps,” he stated modestly. “There’s pickleball camps all over now, but nobody’s ever heard of a pickleball camp until I created one in 2016.”
He reminisced about the inception of the camps in Montreat, sharing his affinity for the area and the availability of tennis courts.
“Like all pickleball players, we see open tennis courts, and we say, ‘Oh, that would be a good place for pickleball,’” Elefterion said.
Slots Fill Within A Day Of Opening
The initiative started as a single one-week camp, but the concept expanded over time to include the current five-camp structure hosted by Suncoast Pickleball.
Remarkably, the camps’ success has been primarily driven by word-of-mouth, eliminating the need for extensive advertising. The demand is evident, as registration slots usually fill up within a day of opening. Elefterion expressed his wish to accommodate more participants, acknowledging the national draw of the camps.
“People from all over the nation are coming to this camp,” Elefterion said. “I wish I could get more because I probably turn down more people than I accept.”
Looking ahead, Elefterion envisions further expansion. He is working towards securing all 100 rooms at the conference center, a move that would necessitate additional court space. To address this, discussions are underway with Creekside Racquet Club in Black Mountain to rent eight other courts. However, this expansion may not come to fruition until 2025.
A Defining Aspect
A defining aspect of these camps is the involvement of professional pickleball players as coaches. Their commitment to the entire set-up, along with provisions for lodging, meals, and compensation, contributes to the program’s appeal.
Scott Tingley, a seasoned player with 13 years of experience, attests to the camps’ excellence. Tingley has been a coach since its inception and appreciates the opportunity to connect with participants on a deeper level in the serene backdrop of Montreat.
Tingley, in his own words, “escalated” into a coach at the summer camps after Elefterion asked him to host pickleball clinics before the tournaments Suncoast Pickleball used to hold when they were based in Florida.
He says they are “one of if not the best camps in the country.” He loves spending time in Montreat, “But more important than that, it’s just getting to know the camp participants at a much higher level than a regular camp,” he says.
Click here to read more of our stories about pickleball camps.
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