Everyone loves summer! For kids, summer is a time to have fun, to be around their friends, and a great opportunity to dive into the passions that they love. I have been fortunate enough to lead the basketball camps here at Pennington for the past four years, and summer is one of my favorite times to be a coach. I love our summer sports camps. I love how they are structured and what the kids get out of them.
Why do I love these sports camps so much? Well, let me break it down for you. I think a perfect summer sports camp has three pillars: fun, fundamentals, and competition. Let me talk more about all three of them and how we here at Pennington integrate them to create an amazing summer experience!
Fun is what makes kids get up and want to arrive at camp on a hot summer day. If we are not having fun, then what are we really doing? Kids learn best when they are having fun, they get the most out of every moment when they are having fun, and from a coach's perspective, we are at our best when we are having fun too.
Joy is a fundamental part of everything we do in regards to our summer camps here at Pennington. We integrate that "joy factor" from the moment the kids arrive in the morning until the moment we leave, and joy is contagious! We truly think that if you are having fun and bringing positive energy into each day, then every person involved in our camp will leave better for it.
Fundamentals are the root to improving your skills! We believe in getting back to the basics, starting at the ground floor and building up over the course of the week. One of the best things about our camps is that we can accommodate all levels of players and athletes because no matter who we are working with, we always start with the fundamentals! We strive to teach fundamentals while having our campers understand why the basics are so important.
I always tell our campers the story of a coach, Alan Stein, watching Kobe Bryant workout one morning. Stein was so surprised with how "basic" Kobe's workout was. He asked, "Why are you doing such basic drills?" Kobe responded, "I never get bored of the basics." If Kobe Bryant could focus on the fundamentals and basics of the game of basketball, then we can too! We believe that getting better starts with working on fundamentals and building from there.
The last pillar of our summer program is competition. We believe it is important to learn how to compete and we believe it is important to put our youth in competitive situations. Competition is not the main focus of our camps but it is significant and, most importantly, we find a way to include competition that brings out the best in all our campers. We see joy in our campers when they get to compete!
A few ways we incorporate competition into our daily sessions are with fun games, small-sided read-and-react scrimmages, as well as full-on scrimmages. We also play hot shot, knockout, free-throw point competition, three-point shootouts, and skill competitions. These games all incorporate important skills into competition, so it is the best of both worlds! We may also give prizes to the winners (you will have to come to camp and see for yourself).
In terms of learning how to play the game of basketball, I am not sure there is anything more important than just playing, trying new things, and learning from both the good and bad. This is why I love small-sided read and react scrimmages. We love teaching our kids not to be "robots" on the court and instead to read the defense and then react. We do these small-sided scrimmages on a daily basis, and by the end of the week we notice a real difference in how our kids are seeing the game!
Playing in true game settings is very important for development, so we close each day out with playing full scrimmages. We just allow the kids to play with no pressure and no stopping the game to coach. They learn from their mistakes, they learn from what goes well, they learn from each other, and they have fun while doing it—and they get better at it!
Well, I know I rambled on a bit there but I just can't help it because I believe in our summer camps here at Pennington!! At Pennington, we believe in fun, fundamentals, and competition because when you mix all three of those aspects together you get the perfect recipe for a successful week.
On the campers' end, all we ask is that they bring attitude and effort each day. If they do that then we are confident they will leave our camps as better people and players than when they arrived.
Camp Director: Pennington Boys' Basketball Camp
Assistant Director of Admission/Athletics Liaison
Head Coach Varsity Boys' Basketball