They call it Intensity Night.
Judging from the players’ faces at the NBC Basketball Camps at Auburn Adventist Academy, they are feeling it.
Heads down, digging deep, running from station to station, spurred on by upbeat pop music throbbing over the gym’s PA system, girls rush through their basketball circuit training drills,
Parents and family watch from the stands, shouting encouragement as the girls switch drills, again and again, getting a taste of what an NBC Camp is all about. It’s a peek into the basketball skills girls are learning to help them move their games to the next level.
There are off-the-court lessons to learn as well. Those lessons, the product of the camps’ emphasis on imparting Christian values such as hard work, integrity and responsibility, hopefully will take root at the camps and bear fruit throughout the lifetime of the campers.
For site coordinator Roger Smith, it’s the 39th year consecutive summer he’s been involved with NBC Camps. Smith, vice president of NBC camps, has been the site director at Auburn Adventist for 25 years. He attended his first NBC as a camper in 1976 in Spokane, where legendary coach and founder Fred Crowell started the camps in 1971.
“Kind of my claim to fame is that I started going to NBC when I was 9, and I’m 48 now,” Smith said. “I haven’t missed a summer. I’m one of the longest to have been with the organization.”
On the court, the NBC Camps resemble other individual sports camps, providing instruction in basketball skills. NBC also offers soccer and volleyball camps.
The company has more than 130 different sites, offering camps in six countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Italy and Austria.
“Number one focus is we’re going to have exceptional direct instruction of fundamental skills,” Smith said.
But there is another element to the camp, Smith added.
“We’re going to also provide them the opportunity to strengthen their character through developing life skills that will make them successful – for example, taking responsibility, being courageous in tough situations, learning how to make split-second decisions and choosing the right things,” Smith explained. “Our core values are honoring family, honoring God and honoring community. And the core value for us is about servant leadership, based off our relationship with Jesus Christ. We want to help kids become not only better players but also better people.”
Typically, 1,000 boys and girls, ages 9-17, go through the Auburn Adventist NBC site each summer.
Several star players have gone through the camps — one went on to an NBA career — but Smith politely declines to name them, preferring to emphasize the camp.
“Our big name is Jesus,” he said.
A typical day for a camper starts with the 7 a.m. wakeup call. After breakfast it’s off to ball handling and team time. Campers then move on to two hours of individual fundamental instruction, including shooting, offensive and defensive sessions and speed and agility work, followed by game-sequence drills.
All before lunch.
Campers have two more hours of individual instruction and more game drills in the afternoon before they move on to a special activity – like Intensity Night.
The evening program is about delivering the camp’s message with a topic of the day.
“We do fun stuff, too, like skits and team competitions, but that’s where we really hit our message,” Smith said.
Before bed, campers have one more team session when they go through a workbook.
Making an impact
For Smith, a fifth-grade teacher at Woodland Elementary School in Puyallup, it’s more than basketball that keeps him coming back every summer.
“For me, the number one reason I’m doing this is the opportunity to impact kids for a lifetime, to help them make decisions that are important for them to become successful people,” Smith said. “Another thing is supporting families. NBC Camps have come alongside families to support their core values and what they believe and how to keep kids doing the right things for the right reasons. It’s not always easy in today’s world to keep that clearcut for kids.”
John Soule, Auburn Adventist Academy’s new principal, said it’s that emphasis that makes offering the use of his school’s facilities to NBC an easy decision.
“At this age, kids are starting to break with their parents and trying to get their autonomy,” Soule said. “At Auburn Adventist, we use the basketball camps to help parents, to provide a community where kids are positive. We reinforce that for our parents. We’re that gap for the parents, and we partner with them to produce a young man and woman who are positive (influences) in (the) community. And that changes culture to become positive. With all the stuff that is out there that our kids have to deal with every day, kids need something positive, something to help them be courageous and be who they are.”
The approach is different with each age group, Smith said.
“With elementary kids, we’re trying to instill good work habits,” he said. “With junior high (players), it’s about good decision making. With the high school, we’re going to focus more on being able to transform by being a leader and transforming your team and community by the actions that you do.”
For Auburn Adventist and NBC, the combination has been a match made in heaven.
“The neatest thing about NBC Camps and their philosophy is that we connect well,” Soule said. “It’s all about character. It’s such a good relationship because we believe in the same thing – building character with our kids.
NBC Camp instructors cheer on campers during a skills drill on Intensity Night, this past Tuesday at Auburn Adventist Academy. SHAWN SKAGER, Auburn Reporter