By Rick Assad
When you’re a youngster, it seems that there are very few things more enjoyable and exciting than going to summer camp.
Now if they’re a sports fan and one of your favorite sports is basketball, then it’s even more pleasurable, and for many local children, grades four through nine, this opportunity will present itself with the First Annual Boys & Girls Club MVP Summer Basketball Camp.
Longtime resident and former Parks and Recreation employee, Mike Graceffo, is the camp director.
Each five-day camp costs $75 and the only exception is Week 2, which has four days and costs $60.
The camp schedule will run Monday through Friday and the time it is held is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. It’s located at 300 East Angeleno Ave. in the city of Burbank.
Each camp will be limited to the first 40 signups and they must be registered a week before camp begins.
For those interested in sending your son or daughter to camp, email Graceffo at: email@example.com.
There will be six camps and the first is June 7 and it runs through the 11th.
The next camp runs four days and begins June 21 and will end on the 24th.
Camp three begins on July 12 and will be over on the 16th.
The fourth camp commences on July 19 and extends through the 23rd.
The next camp takes place on August 2 and will be over on the 6th, and the final camp begins on August 9 and runs through the 13th.
“My expectations are for the campers to leave with a better understanding of the game and to leave being a better player than when they arrived,” said Graceffo, who has coached at all four Burbank high schools and has been an employee of the Burbank Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and the Greater East Valley since 2016. “And to have fun.”
Being grounded in the basketball fundamentals is essential in order to get better.
“I’m hoping the kids want to learn how to better their game, learn the proper fundamentals, have a better understanding of the game of basketball and would want to keep improving,” Graceffo said.
Graceffo has been involved in numerous sports camps and takes pride in the product.
“I run these camps because I love teaching and coaching young athletes and these camps give me the opportunity to give something back to the community that has given me so much,” he said.
Graceffo continued: “I have coached many years of high school, travel ball, CYO [Catholic Youth Organization], Parks and Rec, and I know what it takes to get these young athletes to the next level,” he said.
Having been involved first-hand in camps with top-flight athletes has added to Graceffo’s credentials.
“I’ve been doing camps for over 25 years including working the Michael Jordan and B.J. Armstrong Basketball Camps,” he said. “I ran the very successful MVP Camps for the city of Burbank for many years before they decided to contract out their camps.”
The chance to work with the Boys & Girls Clubs is something Graceffo looks forward to.
“That’s why I am so stoked and appreciative that the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley is allowing me the opportunity to showcase their new facility and gym, which will hopefully bring in some new kids to their programs and conduct the First Annual Boys & Girls Club MVP camps,” he said. “I learn as much from the kids as they learn from me. My goal is for every camper to leave camp a better player than when they arrived, while having a blast doing it.”
Because there are significant age differences in the campers, Graceffo has slightly different expectations.
“The approach for younger campers is to make sure their first experience is a great one,” he said. “Introduce them to the game and the rules. Teach them the proper way to play the game and to have fun.”
Graceffo added: “The approach for older campers is to emphasize the fundamentals. Make sure they understand what high school coaches are looking for,” he said. “Teach them proper footwork and defensive techniques and give them the tools to better their shooting and ball handling.”
Regardless of age or skill level, each and every camper is guaranteed to have a good time.
Perhaps one day these campers will don the uniform of Burroughs High or Burbank. Only time will tell.