A Great Week Of Basketball Camp

Campers learned both basketball and life skills at the first NBC Camp held on Kaua‘i. Photos courtesy The W of Kauai

“Mistakes are stepping stones to success,” says coach Mike Knight as a group of boys and girls practiced their crossover dribbles up and down the hardwood.

There were 89 young campers between the ages of 9 and 18 who registered for the NBC Camps week of basketball drills and instruction June 12-16 at the Island School gym. It was all organized by “The W of Kauai,” more specifically by its president, Joshua Burton.

“God spoke to my heart in August 2011 and wanted me to bring NBC Camps, the best basketball camp in the world, to Kaua’i,” says Burton.

The mission of “The W” is to teach Kaua’i’s youths how to improve both their athletic skills and life skills. In accordance with that philosophy, a pair of presentations during the week outlined the dangers of underage drinking, as well as the responsibility parents have to provide a healthy environment.

With lofty goals and a sense of purpose, basketball was still the name of the game as the kids received coaching and instruction from a large staff headed by Fred Crowell, who founded NBC Camps in 1971. Addressing both parents and campers on the opening day, Crowell let everyone know he wanted NBC to be held accountable for its performance.

“Talk is cheap,” he said. “Hold your judgment until the last day of camp and then decide if we deserve to come back.”

From what I got to see, the kids, their parents and the county will be eager to have them return.

(from left) Master teacher and coach Mike Knight, master teacher and coach Jonathan Alexander, camp director Shawn Stetson, The W of Kaua‘i president Joshua Burton, NBC Camp founder Fred Crowell

“Part of our passion is to bring the next level to Kaua’i,” said Kaua’i Parks and Recreation director Lenny Rapozo. After Rapozo got things started by knocking down the opening free throw, the kids began the next-level training.

Boys and girls of all ages and all skill levels participated in individual conditioning drills, ball-handling drills and intense, fast-paced circuit training. Crowell made sure everyone was hustling and attentive.

“Don’t be last!” he’d remind them as they moved from one end of the court to the other.

With that many balls bouncing at once, it can be easy for individual instruction to get lost, but the NBC staff had help from local Kaua’i volunteers, who rounded out the coaching staff and provided enough eyes for every camper to be the focal point. Burton coached up the youngest boys and girls, showing them initial fundamentals such as how to properly pivot and jump-stop.

Knight, a former Division I college player with both the University of Albany and Seattle University, worked with some of the older campers. His positive and engaging attitude was contagious, and the kids clearly responded to his knowledge and enthusiasm.

At the end of the week, awards were distributed and families were invited back to see what the keiki had learned.

“It was a miracle week in paradise,” says Crowell. “It was one of the highlights of my 41 years with NBC. The children were eager to learn and the staff dedicated to teach.”

The 10 months of planning on Burton’s part were well-worth it.

“This camp has been everything I envisioned and more,” he says. “If there was ever a perfect world, this was definitely a perfect week in a perfect world!”

Burton singled out his board members for their efforts to make it a success, including Erika Burton, Shari Manuel, Jolina Felix-Keamoai and Kuulei Martins.