DES MOINES, Iowa — One of Des Moines’ longest-running basketball camps made an impact without dribbling a basketball.
“This is very important to our community. Unfortunately we could not have the camp this year,” said former Drake University basketball star Jeff Hill. For 39 years, Hill has been the organizer behind Jeff Hill’s Future All-American Basketball Camp in Des Moines. “We’ve got to make sure these kids have some fun. They’ve been locked up for five months. We don’t even know how school is going to start. These kids need something,” Hill said.
COVID-19 caused the camp to go without playing the sport, but it didn’t stop Hill and his camp staff from teaching nearly 200 campers life lessons at the John R. Grubb Community YMCA in Des Moines.
Organizers discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the community and race relations in Iowa. Despite no basketball activities, the group didn’t walk away empty-handed. All kids received a camp medal, t-shirt, facial covering, basketball and a book bag filled with school supplies.
Many basketball camps are too expensive for kids from the nearby community to attend, so sponsorships from local businesses have allowed the campers to attend for free. Even though the coronovirus has strapped many organizations for cash, this was one camp that many sponsors said was too important to pass up on. “After the several months we’ve been through and all the social issues, we thought this was really important to show our support,” said Frank Harty of Nyemaster Law Firm.
The usual four-day-long camp was cut to just one day due to coronavirus and social distancing concerns. Campers were required to wear a mask and also received free pizza for lunch.