It might be called "summer vacation" but don't tell that to the student-athletes from New Canaan and Darien. All summer long in the two towns, it's been week after week of camp after camp.

In an otherwise slower season, the youth from New Canaan and Darien have kept active all summer by attending these camps, which tend to go on for about a week. Although there's certainly been diversity amongst the participants, there has been one unwavering constant: Just about all of these kids truly believe that the camps are helping them improve as players in their particular sport.

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And because confidence goes such a long way in sports, it's great that there are so many camps that are designed to build that confidence as well as teach children a general understanding and passion for the game.

Each of these camps that I've visited seems to have a vibrant and positive atmosphere with a nice balance of instruction and fun. The coaches have consistently done a nice job in creating a laid-back, visitor-friendly atmosphere.

Many of the younger campers indicated that they had yet to play their sport in an actual league, so the camps are also serving as somewhat of a "springboard" into competitive play. Many have also said that they've made a lot of new friends while participating in the camps.

Not only do the camps provide players with instruction, but they also serve as a means for players to see firsthand how they stack up against their peers. A great majority of the camps offer instruction to children from any town, regardless of where the camp is being held. So, we could actually see a camp of future FCIAC rivals. The camps may not be quite the same as participating in an actual game, but over the summer when the local schools are on vacation, they serve as the next best thing.

Most of the camps I've covered have had a wide range of ages, some as young as 3 or 4, and some as old as high school. It shows how much New Canaan and Darien care about the athletic programs, from pre-little league all the way up through FCIAC competition. There's no telling how much the camps can help student-athletes, especially when they're being instructed by former or current college and professional players, as has been the case at several of these camps.

Also, most of the youngest camps seem to take place in New Canaan or Darien, leaving the campers ample time to learn the game and develop their skills by the time they reach high school. So, it should be no mystery as to why New Canaan High School and Darien High School typically boast some of the most talented teams in the FCIAC.

Jon Chik is the sports editor for the New Canaan News and the Darien News. He can be reached at