Loyola hosts youth summer camps

By Alex Davis

While students are on summer break, Michael Giorlando and a handful of other coaches in the Intercollege Athletics and Wellness Department will spend their summer running a series of summer day camps.

“Since I’ve been here in ‘04, I’ve had camps,” Giorlando said. “The basketball camps been going on since probably ’93.”

The basketball camp is one of three summer camps run by the coaches. Between May and July 30, kindergarteners to 14-year-old children will flood the university.

The three camps offered include a four-day basketball camp for girls, a pair of weeklong basketball camps for boys, and a six-week summer day camp. The camps costs range from $60 to $185 per week.

Parents use the camps because it gives their grade-school children something to do in the summer, but for Giorlando, director of Intercollege Athletics and Wellness, it is about teaching the children life skills.

“I love the opportunity to teach young boys and girls the fundamentals of basketball,” Giorlando said. “At the same time I’m teaching them life skills like teamwork, understanding core values of character, how to handle conflict resolutions and seeing kids enjoy interacting with kids they’ve never met. It’s a great way for them to make new friends.”

Between the girls and boys basketball camps, coaches expect to have about 200 campers. However, those numbers may soon change because the girl’s camp numbers are not finalized. The day camp will add about 150 campers.

This year Loyola will also be restarting their girls basketball camp, held from June 1-4. Coach Kellie Kennedy, a 15-year-veteran of summer basketball camps, told Coach Giorlando she wanted to restart the camp.

Jamie Thomatis, assistant women’s basketball coach, says she expects her responsibilities as a basketball coach to also apply in the summer.

“I knew before I took this job that helping with the camp was part of it,” Thomatis said. “We’re trying to make it specific to Loyola, and Coach Kennedy has ample experience running summer basketball camps.”

Thomatis said she hopes to “restart a tradition, and we hope to get our women’s program out into the community. We hope to give back in any way possible.”

Zach Bracey, assistant director of wellness, deals with the single largest group of campers—he runs the six-week Loyola day camp.”Roughly, on average, each session has between 150 to 175 kids,” Bracey said.

From June 15 to July 25, those campers have the opportunity to make arts and crafts, swim in the Olympic-size pool, play sports such as kickball and soccer and interact with Loyola University at a young age.

Despite the hordes of children who participate in the camp, the Recreation Complex regulars do not seem to mind.

“We try to keep the kids as distant as possible from our weight-room area — obviously they’re not allowed in there and upstairs,” Bracey said.

Laura Beatty, marketing coordinator for the School of Mass Communication, said her three children have attended the camp for years. They liked how the camp was scheduled with a wide variety of activities.

Bracey said some of the camp staff are Loyola students, but he also draws counselors from other areas of the community.

Some of the campers have such a great experience that they eventually come back to work as counselors when they get older.

“It’s not typically always Loyola students,” Bracey said. “A lot of these kids have come up through the camp.”

Alex Davis can be reached at [email protected]