Winter camp benefits all involved

There was no sleeping-in for the Oak Harbor High School boys basketball team in the days following Christmas.

The Wildcats woke up early, Thursday through Saturday, to host the second annual winter break basketball camp for boys in grades 1-8.

Summer basketball camps have long been around in the community of Oak Harbor, however, until last December no such opportunity has ever existed for local youth during the winter vacation.

The primary goals of the camp are teaching basic basketball fundamentals and giving kids a chance to take part in physical activity over the two-week vacation from school.

“We’re trying to reach out to kids and put a ball in their hands,” Oak Harbor head coach Bryan Schulle said. “We’re really trying to get our program out in the community.”

The idea for the winter camp was spawned after Schulle attended Central Washington University. Every year the town of Ellensburg puts on a camp for kids during the winter break. Schulle liked the idea so much, he decided to start the tradition in Oak Harbor after being hired as head coach last year.

“As a parent I know it’s a great opportunity for the kids to get out and do something,” Schulle said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

After arriving at camp, kids are split into different age groups and are sent off to work on the skills of the game. Everything from shooting, passing, rebounding, dribbling, and defense are covered in the two and a half hour period.

Of course certain drills always stand out as more popular than others.

“I like shooting the best,” five-year-old Dakota Powers said.

Not only is the camp beneficial to the kids who are learning the game, but it’s rewarding to Wildcat players who used to take part in local basketball camps.

“I remember when I came out here when I was little,” senior Mike Lacey said. “It feels good to just come back and help the little kids like the older kids helped me out.”

“It helps our program out a lot too,” Lacey said. “It lets the little kids know that the high schoolers are out here to help them.”

The camp also raises money for the Wildcat boys team, who will try to participate in a variety of tournaments and camps of their own during the summer months. These summer activities can tend to get rather expensive.

“Last year summer basketball cost the kids $500 each, so if we can knock $100 off, that would really help,” Schulle said.

If enough money is raised some will also be put toward buying the team new equipment.

This year’s camp drew an impressive turnout, nearly doubling what Schulle expected.

“My goal is usually in the forties and I’m sure we’ve exceeded that, so I’m really happy with it,” Schulle said after the first day of camp.

He also sees the event as a win-win situation for everyone involved.

“It’s good for our high school kids and it’s good for the kids out here,” Schulle said.

After wrapping the three-day camp up today, Dec. 28, the Oak Harbor boys will get back to practice Monday and prepare for Marysville-Pilchuck at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 3.

With an 0-7 start, Oak Harbor is hoping they will be able to gather their first win of the season against the Tomahawks.

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