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Camper Selection

  • The tournament camp is restricted to players at a USTA 4.0 playing level or above, a UTR of at least 3.5 (girls) and 4.5 (boys), or be a top player on their high school team. Preferably they have competed in summer USTA tournaments or other competitive events that included ranked players. The tournament camp is similar in structure to junior camp, but tournament players camp focuses on more player-sustained drills and point play situations. Junior camp players have more opportunities to work on mechanical development three times a day at station drills.  They also have the opportunity to play in round robin tournaments against similar competition in the afternoon after scheduled lessons finish.

  • Yes. Every junior camp has approximately 100 players ranging in playing ability from 1.5 to 5.0. Campers are separated according to age and ability, so the most skilled players are always placed together in drill groups. The instruction is adjusted to the level and needs of the student. Station drills that are offered three times each day give all students the opportunity to work on skills related to their individual needs. Advanced players at junior camps can perfect their topspin and slice serves, be grouped with players of similar ability, learn to hit underspin drives with both their forehands and backhands, or master the drop shot and the one-handed, backhand, angle volley.

  • Families are placed in the same half of the camp so that all family members can share the same off-court sessions (mental training, sportsmanship sessions, etc.)  and be separated into different drill groups according to age and ability. However, family members can choose to be in the same drill group. More often parents and children will choose to play together in an afternoon round robin tournament, attend station drills, eat meals, or go swimming together. Family camp offers a wonderful opportunity for extended families (grandparents, parents, children, cousins, etc.) to spend quality time together as they develop tennis and life skills that will enrich their lives after they return home. Non-tennis players are welcome for a $325 charge. They may take advantage of the station drills, sit in on the classroom sessions, use the swimming pool, and eat with their family. Also, a non-tennis player can take care of a youngster fewer than seven years who is too young to participate in the camp. Often young players are introduced to camp in their early years through a family camp and then return to junior camps as they grow older. However, family camps always contain youths of all ages who enjoy coming with their families.

  • We ask that parents/caregivers not accompany children to junior camp because of the need for the child to develop their own experience.  Family camp is the ideal camp to accompany a child if an adult caregiver does not participate in the tennis. The total cost for a room, food in the dining service, the opportunity to observe all tennis instruction, and use of campus facilities including the library and swimming pool is $325.

  • Yes, a 16-year-old youth may attend an adult camp accompanied by an adult.

  • Yes, it is common for high school seniors to attend camp after high school graduation and before they attend college. It can be an excellent way to experience TLC with high school friends or prepare for a college team tryout.

  • Yes. The best strategy is to attend a camp early in the summer. Then spend some time working on the skills and strategies that were learned. Later in the summer, come back for a refresher and a chance to add some new knowledge.  Or some junior campers stay on for the family camp following the junior camp.

Tennis Playing Groups

  • Yes. Indicate the other people you would like to be with when you register. Either three or four other players of similar ability drill together. When everyone selects each other we guarantee that you will be placed together. Also, when groups of eight or more request to be together on court we place you on adjoining courts.

  • Yes. This can be initiated by your request or our judgment. Our supervisors move from one drill group to the next, observing skill levels and player compatibility. We will make switches until satisfaction is achieved.

Instructional Approach

  • TLC recognizes that honest praise enhances performance, motivates students to work harder, and makes tennis more fun. If they perform tasks correctly on one out of several attempts, we highlight the successes and ignore the mistakes. This enhances learning. If there are no successful performances on which to build, skilled TLC teachers break the tasks down or decrease the degree of difficulty. We simplify until success can be achieved and praise can be honestly given.


    However, some students are not satisfied unless they win or hit a perfect shot. If a shot ends up in the net and they lose the point, they see no reason for praise. The skilled instructor may have observed an effective ‘brushing up” on the ball that produced more topspin than ever before, causing the ball to dip into the net. In other situations the instructor may have seen more effort, earlier preparation, or better balance than ever before, and acknowledge it as a positive building block. Each accomplishment is worthy of praise, even if the shot was missed.

  • TLC prioritizes individual attention. It begins when every staff member learns the names of every camper. In junior and tournament camps it continues in the dormitory section as the counselor learns things about each camper. At mealtime counselors sit at each table with the campers and encourage conversation. On the court, four or five campers drill together for the entire camp and get to know each other well. Supervisors roam from court to court assisting with instruction and seeing that the students are adjusting well. Individual instruction is offered three times a day at station drills. Individual videotaping and analysis is provided for each camper. Also each camper receives a written note that evaluates progress and accomplishments in the camp.

  • TLC has a rigorous instructor training program where all instructors are taught the mechanics and strategies and drills we stress.  We recognize that there are different ways to teach tennis, but by having all of our instructors on the same page teaching the same way, it means that when a camper goes from instructor to instructor, they will receive consistent feedback and will be able to grow their game and skills much more quickly.

  • TLC divides the campers into drill groups according to ability. For example all campers receive instruction on the serve, but all drill groups have instruction that is adjusted to the level and needs of the individual camper. Some spend their time developing the mechanics of a simplified serving motion while others are working on slice and kick serves to various locations in the service boxes.

    At station drills that are offered three times a day the same degree of specialization is provided. For example on forehands beginning campers can work on a simple low to high swing with the wrist laid back while advanced campers may be working on a dipping forehand passing shot with a semi-western grip or a drop shot with accentuated underspin produced with a “tea cup” swing and a continental grip.

  • Yes. The ideal situation for every camper is to have a local coach or pro that reinforces what he/she learned at camp. There are many correct ways to strike a ball and the TLC staff does not try to fit everyone into a standardized mold. All students can improve footwork, early preparation, stillness of the head, tracking the ball, balance, and a variety of skills that will improve any stroke that a pro back home may have been developing.

  • The creator of the TLC approach is Steve Wilkinson, who received the 2009 education award from the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Also he was inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010. Neal Hagberg, TLC Camp Director since 2011, is a USPTA Elite Professional. 

    All staff members are tennis pros with USPTA certification or college and high school coaches, or collegiate players with teaching experience.

  • Yes, yes, yes. With a 4:1 student to teacher ratio for on court drills and teachers that provide 1:1 attention at station drills three times a day, a camper will be able to hit as many tennis balls as she/he can imagine.

  • Yes, during singles and doubles strategy sessions for all camps, and early morning exhibition matches during adult camps.

  • No. The intensity of drills is adjusted to your conditioning level. Our trainer can help with ice, tape, bandages or whatever you need. For adults all classes and drill sessions are optional. For youth in junior or family camps the noon hour or the time after 4:15 p.m. provide opportunity for station drills, rest, swimming, or relaxing activities.

Off Court Activites

  • Campers have choices that begin at 4:15 p.m. The swimming pool, spa, and sauna are appealing to some. Others like table tennis, foosball, television, card games, piano playing, reading, and other relaxing dormitory activities- even naps! Adult campers participate in a camp social on the last evening of camp. Junior, tournament, and family campers participate in a camp social on the second evening and the variety show on the third evening that includes both staff and campers. All campers at every camp enjoy the skits, camp songs, and sing along times.

  • We gather at the beginning of the day for a staff member reflection that includes a personal story and a song that ties into a theme of TLC stated values such as acceptance, courage, forgiveness, resilience, and trust. Campers consider how we can better live in the world with each other, both on and off the court. Reflections are a place where we explore what connects us all as humans.

  • Camp song tennis parodies from recognized pop song not only stress humor, but – believe it or not – proper tennis technique and strategies. Daily on-court Saturday Night Live type skits by staff members stress sportsmanship through reverse psychology. Participation in the variety shows by staff and campers showcase the off court talents of many campers and staff members.

  • Each evening after the first night of camp, pizza for evening delivery can be ordered before 8 p.m. Campers may bring money to purchase these items (see costs below).

  • Non-perishable food may be kept in the dormitory room.

  • Yes, but please limit the food to nonperishable items that do not require refrigeration. Youth may wish to have energy foods to place in their racket bags, although TLC does provide apples or oranges every morning and afternoon. Also, they may bring energy drinks, but TLC provides water bottles and ice water on every court and in each classroom. Vending machines with non-nutritional options are located in both the dorms and the Swanson Center.


    Also campers may order pizzas if they place their order before 8 p.m. in the pro shop. The food is picked up in the pro shop at 9:30 p.m. after the evening program.

Pro Shop

  • Yes, they may charge for pro shop items, and then pay at the end of camp. Credit cards are accepted.

  • Rackets, racket re-stringing, t-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, hats, wrist & headbands, instructional manuals, novelty gifts, etc.

  • Yes, racket stringing is available every night, with rackets available the next morning. Starting price for stringing is $45.

Medical and Health Accommodations

  • Yes. Many players with diabetes, asthma, and bee sting allergies attend camp. We can store medicines in our refrigerator and can assist youngsters who need help.

  • Yes. Many players with severe food allergies come to camp. Gluten free or other special diets are easy to achieve. The Gustavus dining service, ranked #8 in the nation among collegiate dining services, offers a wide range of food choices with specific labels. Specific food concerns can be communicated to Margi Willmert in the dining service. Her email is or her phone is 507-933-6245.

First Aid

  • Yes, depending on the nature of the injury and the attitude of the camper. The camper who can walk but not run can still participate in instructor fed drills where the feeds are adjusted to the movement capabilities of the student. Station drills are offered three times each day. They focus on stroke mechanics and do not require movement. Also the strategy, sportsmanship, and mental training sessions require no movement from the campers. The same is true for the meals, evening programs, and other times when counselors and campers mix. Even a hand or arm injury need not necessarily  preclude camp. Sometimes campers have opted to play with their opposite hand in a lower ability group.

  • Both ice and first aid supplies are available at the Swanson Tennis Center and the camp dormitory. TLC and Gustavus have professional athletic trainers. All TLC staff receive yearly first aid and CPR training and certification.

  • The St. Peter Hospital emergency room is only a mile from campus. Campus police and emergency vehicles are available 24 hours per day.

Room Accommodations

  • All dormitory rooms are built to accommodate two twin beds. We do add third beds by special request for junior campers, but we do not recommend that arrangement. Twelve rooms in each dormitory section surround air-conditioned lounges. On hot days we advise campers to keep their windows closed and their doors open to allow the cool air in. Each room will be equipped with a fan provided by TLC. Each dorm section contains restrooms and showers. Private rooms are available for adult campers and for juniors with special needs. We recommend roommates for all junior campers. When they come alone we pair them with another child of the same age who has also come alone. The dorm sections have separate toilet and shower facilities for men and women, thereby accommodating couples in adult camps and families who want to be in adjoining rooms.

  • TLC does not permit single rooms for junior campers unless there is a medical condition necessitating this or a direct parental request to the camp director. We believe the best situation for campers who come by themselves is to meet others, and having a roommate is one of the best ways to accomplish this.


    When three youths want to be together, they can do so if all three agree and their parents support the arrangement. If a fourth child is coming with the group, we strongly suggest the campers stay in two double rooms so no one is left out. The triple room arrangement works for youth who want to stay together, provided they are quiet after curfew.

  •  In junior and tournament camps everyone must stay in the dormitory. The evening interaction with a dorm counselor and other youngsters is a very important part of the camp experience.


    In adult and family camps anyone may choose to stay at home or in a motel. There is a $35 per person refund for people making this choice. Commuting is strongly discouraged. Evening programs in adult camps end as late as 11 p.m. and start as early as 6:50 a.m. People wishing to take advantage of all programs will not have time to commute.

  • Yes. You may have a room in a separate dormitory section for a charge of $170 per person per night (if you’d like meals included in your stay the charge would be $325). Other good options are motel or hotel accommodations in St. Peter, Mankato, or Minneapolis/St. Paul.

  • Yes. Wi-Fi is available in the dorms. You may click in as a Gustavus Guest for no charge. Also, computers with free Internet access are available in the Campus Center just below the Dining Service.

What to Bring

  • Please see the full packing list for complete details.

  • Cell phones are not allowed for junior campers during meals, any scheduled sessions, or between lessons.  Our goal is to relieve the campers from outside distractions that take them away from the camp experience.  Campers may use cell phones during free time after lunch, before dinner, and before evening required programming.  Phones must be kept turned off during all instruction and activity periods. Our staff are also not using cell phones during these times, except to communicate with each other about camp business.  The exception is in order to reach a parent or caregiver or receive a call from them. 

  • If a racquet string should break, restringing costs at least $45. Our Pro Shop offers a variety of merchandise, tennis equipment, convenience items, and snacks at varying prices. Pizzas can be ordered through the Pro Shop, as an evening snack, for $14.

How to Get to Camp

  • Continue on 169 (Minnesota Avenue) southbound through St. Peter, turn right onto College Avenue, and go up the hill into campus.

  • Come into St. Peter on westbound Hwy 99, and at the intersection of Broadway and Minnesota Avenue, turn left. Continue on Minnesota Ave. until you reach College Avenue, turn right, go up the hill into campus.

  • Continue on 169 (Minnesota Avenue) northbound through St. Peter, turn left onto College Avenue, and go up the hill into campus.

  • Come into St. Peter on eastbound Hwy 99, and turn left onto Minnesota Avenue. Continue north to College Avenue, turn left, and go up the hill into campus.

First Day of Camp

  • Camp check-in is between 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Mondays and 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Thursdays. TLC instructors meet campers in their cars and carry their bags to their rooms. Every camper receives a free camp water bottle and t-shirt and a room key prior to the first court sessions. Instruction begins at 5:00 p.m. on Monday and 5:45 p.m. on Thursday.

  • Early check in is not available due to housekeeping scheduling.

  • If you know in advance that you will be late, please call the TLC office at 507-933-8805. We will make special arrangements to accommodate your arrival time.

    If you have not made special arrangements and you arrive between 5:00 pm and 7:45 p.m. on Monday or 5:45 and 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, go directly to the Swanson Indoor Tennis Center. This is an air structure in the northwest corner of campus. Change into your tennis clothes and leave your luggage in the lobby. Report to the supervisor in charge. They will explain what you have missed, direct you to the proper court, and introduce you to your instructor and the students in your group. Later a supervisor will help take your luggage to the dormitory, give you your dorm key, and see that you receive all your registration materials.

    Sometimes campers must arrive on the morning of the second day. If so, please call the TLC office in advance to make special arrangements.

  • NO FIRST EVENING MEAL IS PROVIDED. Instead campers may bring their own food, eat at a local restaurant, or pay for a meal at the college dining service. Light refreshments are provided around 8 p.m.

  • Yes. TLC wants to be informed in advance of any youth who are driving and who will be coming with them. We require youth to leave their car keys at the pro shop shortly after they arrive. They may not drive at any time while camp is in session.

  • Yes. Land to Air Express shuttle service will take you from Minneapolis/St. Paul directly to the Gustavus campus.

Last Day of Camp

  • The final awards program in the Student Union begins at 12:15pm and ends at 1:15pm. We ask parents and caregivers please attend this camp summary if possible. Camp pictures, achievement award sheets, video analysis cards, and graduation certificates are given to each camper. The entire staff is present and several share personal experiences involving them and the campers.

    We welcome parents to come to the Swanson Tennis Center in the morning to watch their child play tennis between 8:10 and 11:50 a.m. Next join them in the Student Union at 11:30 a.m. for lunch. The food is excellent. The Dining Service is ranked #8 in the nation for all colleges and universities.

    We request that all campers attend the final awards program. When early departures are absolutely necessary, TLC wants to be informed on registration day. Special arrangements will be made for distributing the camp pictures, graduation certificates, and other materials.

  • Yes. Inform TLC before camp begins of the conflict. Indicate who will pick up and return your child and what the hours will be.

  • Please inform the TLC office at check-in time. Special arrangements will need to be made for camp graduation materials, camp picture, and room key. We recommend that you attend the final awards program, so please plan to attend whenever possible.

Junior Campers

  • Yes. Our programmed schedule of activities begins at 6:45 a.m. and continues until bedtime at 10 p.m. Teachers are with them continuously. Even at mealtime an instructor sits with the campers at each table. The front doors to the dormitory are kept locked or supervised. Each child is given a key to his/her individual room. Twelve rooms are grouped around a central lounge. Each section has an instructor/dorm counselor who looks after the youth and sees that lights are out and curfews are enforced. Boys and girls’ rooms are separated by floor and kept monitored. No one may leave the dormitory in the evening. Furthermore, Tennis & Life Camps is located in a safe, small college community with 24-hour presence by Gustavus campus security.

    In addition, campers must sign out after mandatory lessons for the day are finished and sign in to what they will do during free time (tennis drills, be back at the dorm, swimming, etc.).

    We have a staff member at the dorm roaming the floors during free time in case a camper has a need.  Campus safety also makes rounds of our dorms.  If a camper experiences a need, we ask them to go straight to their dorm counselor, an instructor, or office staff member to help them resolve their issue.

    No camper is allowed in another camper’s room without being invited.

    No campers are allowed under any circumstances in a dorm counselors room, and no staff member is allowed to enter a camper’s room unless it is an emergency.  

    All staff/camper interactions take place only in the public dorm section space or other public spaces on campus.

    All staff members are employees of Gustavus Adolphus College, are trained in Title IX compliance, have extensive background checks, and are versed in CPR and where campus Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are located.  (An AED is present at the Swanson Tennis Center).

  • If any child becomes homesick during a junior camp and wants to come home, we recommend an alternative plan. A parent can join the child at camp and stay in a separate dormitory room until the homesick crisis passes. You may have a room in a separate dormitory section for a charge of $170 per person per night (if you’d like meals included in your stay the charge would be $325).

  • Yes. However, realize that the camper will repeat the same instructional program. Drill sessions and station drills are always adjusted to what each camper needs, so the immediate repetition can prove valuable. Many youth leave camp wishing the camp were longer, so this could be a good solution. We believe a better solution is for a camper to come at the beginning of summer and then return at the end when what they have learned the first time has had a chance to sink in. 

    No Sunday night stays are possible. Our staff is off duty from Sunday to Monday afternoons.

  • Yes. Some children prefer to come alone, thereby increasing their opportunity to create new friendships with youth from other communities. A child coming alone is paired in a dorm room with another child of similar age who has come alone. Sometimes these matches lead to lifetime friendships.

    TLC prioritizes openness and inclusiveness. All the instructors know the first names of every camper after a day. The first dorm section meeting on the first evening of camp requires all campers to share things about themselves and to learn each other’s names. Camp instructors always sit with the campers at mealtime. The staff looks for campers who may be sitting alone and goes to them. The same is true at the camp social hour. Also, on the court the staff looks for campers who may seem shy or not included. The positive, reinforcing approach to instruction helps instill personal confidence in all TLC campers.

  • Yes! Please call our camp office at 507-933-8805. If no one is available there, you may call the camp director at 612-875-1613.  If the director is unavailable, call Campus Safety at 507-933-8888 and they will reach the appropriate staff member.  We appreciate confidential calls when parents hear about a problem that could use staff intervention. We give extra attention to the children who need it. Loneliness, homesickness, upset stomach, roommate incompatibility, etc., are all problems that we want to address as soon as possible. An alert from a parent helps us achieve our goal of sending every camper home with a very positive camp experience.

  • Every person with a birthday at camp will have “happy birthday” sung to them by the entire camp. Also some families choose to purchase a birthday cake from the Dining Service. You may contact Margi Willmert at 507-933-7608 and place an order. Let the TLC staff know and we will pick it up. Usually it is shared at 9:00 p.m. with about 20 youth who live in the same dormitory section.

Youth Awards

  • Scholarships are available based on need and merit. Our goal is that no camper be excluded for lack of financial resources.  Because of NCAA rules, scholarships are limited to youth who have just finished the 8th grade or younger.


  • $100 fee for all cancellations prior to four weeks before your camp begins and no refunds afterwards. In the case of a medical emergency that is verified by a physician and where we receive notification between four weeks out and noon of the day preceding camp, the cancellation fee is $100 with the rest fully refunded. Any other withdrawal results in no guaranteed refund.

  • Please visit our registration page and click on (waiting list only) to put yourself on the waiting list.


    You may enter your information, and when and if a spot opens up, you will be contacted with a code to register. If your dates are flexible, but the camp you want to attend is wait-listed, we recommend registering for an alternative camp. When/if your name is reached on the waiting list, we can easily switch your registration over to a preferred camp. If you have any questions about where your position is on the waiting list, please contact Cal Carlson at


  • There are two kinds of discounts. 

    Choice One: Early Registration Discount

    A $60 discount is applied if registered on or before March 1st. Registration must be paid in full at the time of registration.

    Choice Two: Group Discounts (All group members must attend the same camp)

    Group discounts will apply for the following group sizes:

    Group Discount Rate (8-16 campers): -$60

    Group Discount Rate (17-25 campers): -$70

    Group Discount Rate (26+ campers): -$80

    You must attend the same camp with your group to get the discount. Full payment required to get a discount. Remember, discounts cannot be combined. Reservations for your group may be made with Calleigh at

  • Unfortunately, you are not able to combine early registration and group discounts. Please decide prior to registering which discount you will be seeking. All discounts are based on the full camp price of $715.

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