CHESHIRE, Mass. -- Since 1999, the Best Soccer Camp has been teaching skills and having fun with area youngsters.
A couple of years ago, it made a move from the Valley Street Fields in Adams to the varsity pitch at Hoosac Valley High School.
Among other things, the relocation opened up the possibility of using the school's gymnasium in the event of inclement weather -- not that that has been an issue.
"In 16 years here, we've had one bad week," Best Soccer director Paul Mumby said as he watched the campers finish up on Wednesday afternoon.
And given the number of families who come back year after year for the camp, the weather has not been the only good thing about the experience.
Mumby started Best Soccer as a summer camp operation in Westborough in '99. It has since grown to a year-round operation that offers camps for kids 3 through 18 as well as seven travel teams in the Massachusetts Premier League.
Most of Best's camps are in central Massachusetts, but an early partnership and continued success in North Berkshire has kept Mumby coming back year after year.
The four-day Cheshire camp offers three levels of instruction: a one hour class for 3- to 5-year-olds ($55), a half-day session for 5- to 7-year-olds ($105) and a full day for kids 7 and up ($185).
There are about 30 children enrolled in this week's camp, which is a typical number in recent years. The Best camp in Adams has had as many 100 children enrolled in past years.
"The economy has changed a little bit," Mumby said. "More parents are working, and they are looking for something for the kids for a whole day."
And there are more camp options than ever before, he noted, including more soccer camps to choose from.
Best camps try to set themselves apart with their style of instruction.
"We're fun based," Mumby said. "We play a lot of games with the kids.
"We teach them skills through games. It's called non-directive coaching. We spend time on techniques, but we make sure we're not boring them."
To learn more about Best soccer, visit www.bestsoccer.org.