Next Level Ultimate Camp 2012

by | May 15, 2012, 9:52am 0

Some Ultimate camps brag about results, but the Next Level Ultimate camp lets its long list of graduates on elite college, club, and national teams speak for themselves. After all, what would you expect from a roster of counselors that could probably form their own world championship team? Ben Feldman built this vision of a an elite youth camp into a reality four years ago. Now his camp is run in two cities and is snatching up big-name counselors and spitting out a new generation of top-tier players. Ben and a few counselors talked to Skyd about why he is so passionate about spurring lifelong connections, endowing life skills, and teaching kids to play at the Next Level. 

Skyd Magazine: Tell us about Next Level. How did it start? Who runs it? Where is it?

Ben Feldman: I started playing Ultimate when I was a sophomore at Hopkins High School in Minnesota. After having my interest sparked in the sport, I attended Junior Elite Methods (JEM) Camp in 2005, which was put on by the University of Colorado Mamabird in Boulder. My motivation to get Next Level off the ground was largely inspired by the enjoyable experience I had while attending JEM Camp as a high school player. Some of the players that attended that 2005 session included names such as Brodie Smith, Hylke Sneider, Nate Castine, Jeremy Norden, and Jon Hirschberger, all of whom have developed in to top class Ultimate players. I wanted to be able to provide current high school students with a similar opportunity in hopes that Next Level would help ignite their careers in a similar fashion.

Next Level Ultimate Camp was established in the spring of 2009. Our first session was held at Edgewood College in Madison, WI, which has continued to be the location of one of our boys overnight sessions to date. The following summer, Next Level established an additional boys session on the west coast at Linfield College in Portland, OR. In 2011, that location shifted to the University of Oregon in Eugene, and with that change we also introduced our first ever girls session. We have had continued growth over the past three years, and our numbers and geographical reach continue to increase. Our camps and locations for 2012 are as follows:


Boys: July 7-12, 2012
Edgewood College
Madison, WI

Girls: July 21-26, 2012
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR

Boys: July 21-26, 2012
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR

Skyd: Who are your counselors this year?

Ben: Next Level makes it a priority to bring in the best of the best counselors to train our attendees. While some camps may pull local counselors to teach at their sessions, Next Level hand selects a diverse and experienced group of staff from all over the country to ensure the best coaching core for our campers. Our counselors have firm roots in some of the top college Ultimate programs in the country, including Wisconsin, Florida, and Colorado. Many of them now serve as both players and leaders on elite club teams such as Seattle Sockeye, Seattle Riot, Atlanta Chain Lightning, Portland Rhino, New York PoNY, Minneapolis Sub Zero, and Madison Club. Our counselors has led teams to championships, battled injury, made the “big” plays, and most importantly understands what it takes to succeed in the college division and beyond. Full counselor list (Boys/Girls)

Skyd: How does the NL program work?

Ben: Next Level Ultimate is dedicated to providing high school players with a competitive, motivating and fun experience that develops skills, strategy, teamwork and next level knowledge in the sport of Ultimate. High school students have the opportunity to meet and engage in high-level play with other athletes from all over the country during our summer camp sessions. With a quality staff and vastly experienced instructors, Next Level Ultimate educates campers about advanced fundamentals and techniques needed to succeed in the College Ultimate Frisbee Division and beyond. At Next Level, we’re committed to building leaders on and off the field. Over the course of our five-day summer session, our counselors and staff will work to give campers the confidence and tools necessary to improve not only themselves, but future teammates and friends.

Skyd: What makes it special?


  1. Next Level maintains a low camper-counselor ratio (6 to 1) to ensure that each one of our attendees has sufficient one on one time with our coaches. We not only want to develop our campers as players, but we want them to have the opportunity to broaden their “Ultimate Network” by developing friendships with our staff. Our campers and counselors unite and create one team, and work to make one another a better player and teammate over the course of the five days.
  2. Next Level provides the “college experience” to our attendees. Not only do campers stay overnight in the dorms, but we also make a point of showcasing both the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to our campers during their stay. It is a great way for players to visit these formidable colleges with great academics, both of which also happen to have extremely successful Ultimate programs.
  3. Next Level focuses on preparing players for the college division, which includes increased physicality and speed of the game. We introduce advanced concepts that only the best of the best can effectively introduce and teach to high school players.

Mario O’Brien: What makes Next Level unique is that we honor the fact that most of the campers who attend camp are there because they want to be the best Ultimate players possible. In every way, we provide them with opportunities to become just that. We push them mentally and physically, and want to give them a realistic look at what it’s like to train to be the best. Ben Feldman has made a commitment to creating an environment that cultivates the next generation of great Ultimate players. As someone who has worked for 10 years at multiple types of summer camps, I can honestly say this camp is ridiculously fun for everyone involved, campers and coaches alike. The days are jam-packed with engaging and meaningful activities that last a lifetime. Campers make friends that they will see and connect with in the community for as long as they play Ultimate. In my personal life, these types of wonderful connections have been fundamental in shaping who I am, and I’m sure the same will be true for campers.

Shannon O’Malley: I think what makes Next Level special is the chance it gives kids to be independent. They not only gain experience in what it will be like to play at a higher level/in college, they get a little taste of college life. We stay in college dorms, eat at the dinning halls, and explore the campus. They get a shot at living with someone they have never met before which is incredibly valuable before getting to college. The living environment and time outside of practices allows the kids to build really strong bonds with each other, which in turn creates an amazingly supportive learning environment on the field.  So not only are we teaching these kids how to be the best Ultimate players they can, we are giving them an incredible life experience to prepare them for their future.

Skyd: Tell us about the NL scholarships.

Ben: For 2012, Next Level, in partnership with the Wisconsin Hodags, Oregon Ego, and Seattle Riot, will once again be offering a $300 partial scholarship to each of our three overnight sessions. We are thankful that these three talented programs continue to support Youth Ultimate through our organization. The deadline to apply is May 15th for the Riot scholarship, and May 28th for the Hodags and Ego scholarship. More information, including the application and deadlines, is posted on our website ( Next Level will work with a representative from each respective program to select the recipients. Financial need will be considered when selecting the recipients, but it is not be the lone consideration when awarding the scholarships.

Skyd: Who are some notable graduates of the NL program?

Ben: A few notable Next Level attendees that are competing on elite college teams include Josh Klane (Minnesota), Ben Rehmann (Wisconsin), Kyle Geppert (Wisconsin), Craig Cox (Wisconsin), and Eli Leonard (Michigan). Many of the players that have attended our camps over the past three years are still in high school, and currently compete on power house teams such as Hopkins and South Eugene. Most recently, Harper Garvey (three years) and Henry Phan were selected as members of Team USA for the 2012 World Junior Ultimate Championships. This marks the second and third time that a camper has been selected for the team (Josh Klane – Team USA 2010).

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