ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Abilene-based nonprofit Basketball Smiles is set to begin its 20th annual camp next week, extending the positive reach of the Big Country to a community 1,000 miles away.
Next Monday marks the beginning of the 20th annual camp, started in 1999 by KTAB Chief Meteorologist Sam Nichols and Coach Patty Johnson from the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The camp is a week-long program teaching children of all ages basketball and life skills such as conflict resolution and politeness.
Nichols says about 90 percent of the support that Basketball Smiles receives comes from the Big Country.
The camp first began with about 80 campers and bloomed over the years to about 400 children, Nichols says the nonprofit expects to serve its 11,000th child this year.
“Basketball Smiles has taught me so much,” said Serena Brown, now a college student at Texas A&M University and has attended numerous Basketball Smiles camps over the years.”It taught me to be respectful and to get along with so many people. I really appreciate that,” said Brown.
Campers are not the only ones that appreciate the opportunities the camp provides, volunteer coach Seth Due says he loves teaching the children that come through the week-long program because they’re particularly eager to hit the court.
“Other camps I’ve worked we see a lot of kids that aren’t appreciative of the skills we’re trying to set them,” said Due. “You can tell these kids are really appreciative, they want to learn, they want to get better.”
Follow the Basketball Smiles Facebook page for further updates on next week’s camp.