From a college coach’s perspective, hosting a camp allows them to talk to players they are recruiting. It gives them the opportunity to get to know them, their personality and to see how they respond to challenges. For example, I watched the head coach of a big D1 program pair my daughter with another recruit. She then worked with them at every station of the camp. She front-toss pitched to them, challenging them inside, high, low, outside, change-ups and quick-pitches. She had a similar approach defensively and got to know the two of them very well including their strengths and weaknesses.
Another common reason is for the coach to be able to make players offers while they’re on campus. In most cases they’ll tell you to take some time to think it over before making a decision. They may give you a deadline, but that’s because they have to look at other players should you not accept. Any commitments are verbally given first. There are specific dates during a players’ senior year for each college sanctioning body when they actually sign their National Letters of Intent. Regardless, although offers can be extended via emails and phone calls, coaches usually like to make them in person on campus.
The coach usually helps schedule a tour (visit) of the school for the players and parents, have them meet with academic advisors and spend time with some of the players on the team. Again, you should learn the rules for visits (official and unofficial) for each of the sanctioning bodies. No, visits do not always include offers.
Another big reason coaches have camps is to make money. Depending on the school, camps are often operated through a legal entity (LLC or S-Corp) that the coach formed. They may run them like a business. Some of the money could go to the head coach, while portions could serve as a salary for assistants. The top D1 schools coaching staff can make a lot of money this way. Other schools programs may use the proceeds to purchase equipment, warm-ups and other gear for the team.
Softball is a non-revenue sport, meaning it costs the colleges more to have them than money they generate. Football and men’s basketball are the two main revenue sports in college (as a whole) that help to pay for the budgets of all other sports. While some colleges charge admission to get into a softball game, most do not. Smaller college programs can’t offer big salaries for the coaching staff, so using camps to raise money for the coaches is a reasonable practice.