The first Bahamas Virtual Basketball Camp, hosted by Ballin’ by da Beach Camps and the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF), is in the books. The unconventional camp attracted young campers from all across The Bahamas and even the United States of America (USA).
Camp Director Jurelle Mullings described the week as one filled with energy from the campers and coaches. The camp got underway on Monday, August 24, and wrapped up on Friday.
“The week was fantastic,” Mullings said. “I enjoyed the experience given the circumstances. Even though we were virtual, I still felt the energy from the campers and the coaches who presented. The kids were engaged, interactive, parents kept sending words of encouragement and it helped to carry the momentum throughout the week. It was an enjoyable experience.”
Campers tuned in from 12 separate locations across the archipelago – Abaco, Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Inagua, Long Island, New Providence, Grand Bahama, the Berry Islands and Moore’s Island. There were also a few who were in the USA.
The camp had 289 registrants. There were 58 campers who tuned in everyday on the Zoom platform. Monday had to the most campers logging on with 125. On the final day, 100 campers logged on.
Parents were grateful to have something where their kids could be relieved from being idle in the house all day. It was something where they could be interactive and enjoy an experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A camper from Mangrove Cay, Andros, said: “I’ve truly enjoyed those days of camps and I must say my mental strength is far better than before the camp. Thanks for the opportunity and allowing me to be a part of it.”
A parent said she was impressed with how the camp turned out and wanted an extra week.
For skills and drills, Mullings said they did the best that they could have done with the assessment. The campers were able to take part in fitness competitions, doing exercises such as push-ups and burpees. The organizers were able to see improvement over the five days. The campers were rewarded prizes for the mental, leadership and basketball IQ portion of the camp. Mullings expects to see some real strong ball handlers coming out of the camp, post-COVID-19.
They did a poll daily with the campers, finding that nearly 100 percent of the campers said they had fun, learned something new and got better at basketball because of the teachings offered.
Some of the coaches and instructors who played a role in the camp were University of The Bahamas (UB) Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bacchus Rolle, Golden State Warriors’ Assistant Coach Chris DeMarco and University of Houston Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach Mikhail Higgs; other presenters were Marvin Henfield, Sanchez Moss, Kayle “Sly” Fox, Anton Francis, Rashad McKenzie, Shantell Penn and Geno Bullard.
“The coaches were grateful for the opportunity to showcase themselves this summer and to have a platform. Some of them have pilot organizations so it gave them an opportunity to market directly to kids who may be interested in their services. They are really passionate about kids so they were really grateful for the opportunity to connect with these kids on such a large scale. They really enjoyed the camp and are looking forward to doing it again. Some may even replicate the platform,” Mullings said.
Mullings admitted that the virtual camp format is tiring also but added that it is not as taxing as a physical camp.
“There is still a level of work that has to go into it,” Mullings said. “You have to update social media, use videography and luckily I had the support of Sideline Sports’ Jerome and 10th Year Seniors’ John Marc-Nutt. Those guys helped lessen the burden, so I appreciate their support, but it was still tiring.
“Both types of camp have their challenges. None are easy. I think anything worth doing is never easy. Both have challenges but the rewards are equally gratifying. The satisfaction comes from seeing the kids have fun, grow and get better and learn something new.”
The sponsors for the camp were Mr. Ship It, the Bahamas Basketball Federation and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. Many of the kids did not have basketballs but were able to acquire balls thanks to the sponsors.
Mullings, who is also the coordinator of the Student-Athlete Resources and Support (STARS) Program at the Ministry of Education, would love to do another virtual camp but extend it beyond basketball. She said although the experience is virtual, it still takes a lot of energy and resources. If it is going to be a free camp, she and her team are going to need sponsors to come onboard, particularly those companies that are staying afloat in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mullings said it always an honor to adhere to community needs, especially when it is for the youth.
Mullings said there may be more virtual events in the community moving forward to keep the kids engaged. Parents and kids are asking when the next one will be and when can they do it again.