Thursday, June 12, 2014

Camper Of The Day



I've coached in many, many basketball camps at various times and in different states but today was a first for me. At our WCS basketball camps, which I have now worked for sixteen years and I would guess 80+ sessions, we always give a Camper Of The Day for each team, announced in a little closing ceremony every morning and afternoon. The award is based on the word of the day, printed on the campers'/staff t-shirt. (Monday is attitude, Tuesday is effort, Wednesday is fundamentals, Thursday is discipline, Friday is tenacity.) The plan was put into place twenty-one years ago by then camp director/boys' basketball coach, Greg Glenn, and carried on by his successors, Russell Carr and Trey Austin. Traditionally, the director leads a short discussion of the word of the day as each session begins and the campers/staff all clap each time the word is used in demonstrations. It's a neat tradition.

This week, we have about fifteen kids in the morning session, which is entitled Hard To Guard Camp. Of the fifteen, only two are girls and both of them are my team, which we named after my college squads, the York College Panthers! The Panthers also include my voluntary assistant coach, Lizeth, who plays for me on our school team and who will be an 8th grader this August. Yesterday, as we did a shooting drill, I made a point to my campers, Faith and Dru, that when we are rebounding, the ball is sort of like a baby- you never let a baby fall and hit the floor. You have to pursue the basketball and catch it in the air! Being a little bit silly, I asked the duo if they were of the mindset that we should give the ball/baby a name. They were! Babies have to have a name and Dru immediately christened our new teammate Charlotte. It became a big thing. They started saving a place for Charlotte when we would sit waiting for instructions and once when Trey told all the campers to put the balls in the racks, one the girls told me they were putting Charlotte in her crib. It may seem very silly but they got into it which is what is all about, especially with very young kids and these are very young kids.

Today as I came into the gym, I asked Valerie, a senior to be who handles all the non-coaching details of our camps, if there was an extra t-shirt I could borrow. She graciously granted permission and I went into the locker room and got an adult large. I stuck one of our blue and gold basketballs inside the shirt, Lizeth made a name-tag, and the physical Charlotte came into being. Faith was absent today due to a family commitment so Charlotte became Dru's best buddy and accompanied her wherever Dru would go. Dru decided Charlotte might like a boyfriend so Chuck came onto the scene. and she would place another ball beside Charlotte. She also thought Charlotte and Chuck might someday get married and have kids- she named them Christina/Chris/Chiquita. Then came the matter of Charlotte's last name; logically, we settled on Ball. It just fit for some reason. The Panthers, even short handed, had a terrific day! When we did shooting contests, we merged with the Ligers (think Napoleon Dynamite!) Late in the morning, Valerie came up to me and asked who should be Camper Of The Day. She suggested Charlotte....and Dru was so excited for her new teammate/friend! And so, Charlotte Ball became the first camper of the day to be round, painted blue and gold, and to be formed out of a rubbery substance. You can see Charlotte posed in all her splendor with her award, in a candid shot taken by Valerie. I was almost emotional.

Now, you may think this whole story is silly and a waste of time but it isn't. First, it makes absolute basketball sense. Players today are extremely careless with the ball and treat it nonchalantly while the ball is the most important thing in the game. If you never relinquish possession, you cannot lose because your opponent can't score. But there is also a spiritual implication. All of us have been careless at one time or another with the things that really matter; our health/family/morals/purity/study/prayer life/benevolence. We treat these treasures nonchalantly the way campers treat a basketball in a hot gym on a June morning in Houston, Texas. Proverbs 19:16 teaches us that:
He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, But he who is careless of his ways will die.
I don't want to ever be accused of being careless with my soul! I should watch my soul like Dru watched over Charlotte, and that's closely. At the end of camp, I asked Dru if she wanted to take Charlotte home with her. She was hesitant about springing that on her mom- that's quite a bit of responsibility for a little girl!- so Charlotte is spending the night in the locker room. I bet she misses Dru; she could not ask for a better friend.

Applicable quote of the day:
 "
Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its apparent opposite and enemy, the sense of order imposed on the disciplined adult intelligence."
 Norman Podhoretz

God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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