LEMON TWP. - Camp Kelly’s annual boys’ basketball camp was the place to be last week for boys who wanted to attend a fun summer camp that focused on basketball, enjoying the outdoors, and forging friendships and team-building skills.
Some 58 campers attended the camp under the guidance of Coach Chad Pettus, who has been coaching for two years. Most of the campers were veterans that went to the camp before.
The campers not only had the opportunity to play basketball, but they also had the chance to experience the many other fun activities that Camp Kelly offers.
Over the course of the week, the boys also had access to Camp Kelly’s rock wall, zipline, pool, and lake.
They were also able to show off their bow skills at the nearby T-Town Archery range, Pettus said.
Another feature of the camp is the indoor basketball court that sheltered the players from the elements so that, even when it was pouring outside, the campers could play on.
The campers took advantage of this court. Playing basketball was the main feature of the camp, so the boys had lots of time to hone their skills and perform drills over the week, rain or shine.
The boys learned many new skills over the course of the week, courtesy of Pettus.
Pettus played basketball at Scranton High and has been an assistant coach for Lackawanna College’s Men’s Basketball team going on four years, so he is no stranger to the sport.
He taught the boys college drills last week, pushing the campers to their limits.
Pettus said that, even though the drills were different from the drills the boys were used to doing, the campers adapted over the course of the week.
The boys were tripping over their feet while attempting to perform the new drills at the start of the week, but there was great improvement over the course of the camp, according to Pettus.
Pettus said he used the college drills precisely because of how foreign they were to the boys.
His goal was for the campers to take the skills they learned at camp to their games during the regular season.
“I want the other players to say ‘Where did you learn this?’” said Pettus.
He was impressed with the campers’ attitudes towards the new, more difficult drills. Pettus said that it was amazing to see the boys pushing themselves and giving their all out on the court.
Pettus said that the campers’ determination and devotion to the sport were what brought him back to coach another year.
“It was the kids, 100 percent the kids,” said Pettus.
At the end of the day, Pettus said that he wanted the boys to take away the importance of being a team.
“Everything is team oriented. Basketball is not an individual sport. It takes a team to win,” said Pettus.
He said that the campers were involved in lots of team-building exercises over the week, such as an eight foot trust fall into the arms of fellow players that all the boys did.
Awards given out this week included: Championship Team (older kids): Raptors- Arvel Chandler, Chris Chandler, Phoenix Woodard, Alexander Bond, Dante Volpe, Tyler Pietrowski; Championship Team (younger kids): Duke. King of the Court: Paul Gammaitoni; Free Throw Winner: Robby Lucas; MVP Award: Arvel Chandler.
Chandler, a 15-year-old camper going into 10th grade from Scranton, said he enjoyed when they played together as a team.
He has been attending Camp Kelly for three years. He said that his favorite drills were when they played five on five and their teams played against each other.
Chandler said that he likes attending camp because of the friends he made there, too.
Ben Chilson, 14, from Tunkhannock, has been attending the camp for four years and his favorite part is also playing five on five against other players.
He said that the coaches draft the campers into separate teams at the beginning of the week. Then, the teams play against each other during the week leading up to the championship at the end, where the teams all compete to win first place.
Chilson said that he enjoys doing the college drills, as well.
“I find them more fun, challenging, too. They definitely got us all better.”
Chilson also likes the opportunity to meet new players from other schools and see how they play.
Tymel Miles of Scranton, who worked as a counselor of the basketball camp for two years and at the ropes course at Camp Kelly for nine years, said that the beginning of the week focused on exhibition games. After that, the games became more serious, with the playoff games on Thursday, and awards on Friday.
Tom Lasoe, 12, from Clarks Summit, who had never attended the camp before, said that he loved Camp Kelly and would recommend it to other people just like his friends recommended it to him.
“It’s an all-around good time if you want your kids to make friends and play basketball,” said Lasoe.
At the end of the day, Pettus wanted the basketball campers to have a fun time doing what they love and take the team-building lessons they learned into the real world.
Camp Kelly is run by United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania.