Chestnut Hill College head basketball coach Jesse Balcer (left) is in his second year of overseeing Philadelphia Youth Basketball. (Photo courtesy of Jesse Balcer)

by Christina Grierson

The end of the school year is just around the corner, which is the first indicator of the beginning of summer. Children and parents alike will soon be looking for ways to make use of their new-found free time and warm weather.

Philadelphia Youth Basketball, a nonprofit organization geared towards enriching children academically and athletically will start its third annual Collegiate Summer Camp Series on June 18. PYB is a youth development program whose primary focus centers on using basketball to aid its campers in becoming the best students, athletes and future leaders in their communities that they can be.

The Collegiate Summer Camp Series is one of the programs PYB uses to introduce these ideals to their participants. Every week for seven weeks, the camp relocates to different college campuses throughout the Philadelphia area. On week two of CSCS’s seven-week run, from June 25 to June 29, the camp will make its way to Chestnut Hill College’s campus, and will be for girls.

Last year, Chestnut Hill College’s head basketball coach Jesse Balcer oversaw the camp. Balcer, who has been coaching at Chestnut Hill College since the program’s founding in 2003, was asked by PYB to run the camp from CHC’s campus where he was in charge of the counselors and campers, making sure the day ran smoothly according to the system PYB put into place.

Balcer described the Collegiate Summer Camp Series as a chance for campers to learn basketball while also playing with their friends and having the opportunity to interact with a number of different college coaches and athletes. He also discussed what sets PYB’s Collegiate Summer Camp Series apart from other basketball camps and what the kids will get out of the experience.

“I think what separates them is they get a chance to – they go up into a classroom for a few hours everyday and they learn life lessons or they do things that have to do with academics,” he said.

Grasping the fundamentals of the game is a key part of what goes on in the camp. A large part of the day is dedicated chiefly to teaching the bare bones of basketball. Balcer stressed the significance of this time and making sure the campers fully understand the basics before they learn “the extras.”

“The kids want to have fun,” Balcer said. “The kids want to learn and everything, but it has to all start with the basics. So, I think that’s kind of the layout for mostly all camps and PYB included.”

Week two happens to be “Girls Week” of the series, targeting fourth to eighth graders in particular, and this year Balcer will not be heading the camp. Instead, in light of Girls’ Week, a woman coach and women counselors will run the camp.

“Women’s basketball and girls’ sports in general have blown up lately and I think this is just another way to highlight it. I think it’s a great idea,” Balcer said.

Balcer expressed the importance of having a camp dedicated specifically to young girls in a climate where more awareness is needed not just on women’s basketball, but all women’s sports. With the plethora of camps that are geared towards young boys, this particular week is especially important for the young girls involved in PYB and can be very beneficial for them.

Week one of the Collegiate Summer Camp Series will be held at Jefferson University. Following week two at Chestnut Hill College, the program will move to St. Joseph’s University, Temple University, La Salle University and will ultimately conclude for the summer at the University of the Sciences.