By Ray Hamill — Basketball Jones Hoop Camps will return to where it all began next week, with a week-long camp scheduled to take place at Redway Elementary School.
And in the spirit of camps founder Gene Cotter, the camp will be offered free of charge for anyone unable to afford it, while all funds raised will go toward building basketball facilities in the area.
“It’s a full fundraising event,” said Northern Regional Director of Basketball Jones Gordie Hunt, who added “We have some ideas of what we want to do with the money.
“There’s only one (outdoor) basketball court at Miranda Junior High and we have eight or nine teams in Miranda. Some teams don’t even get the chance to practice, so we’re trying to figure out a way to pave some new courts.”
Hunt, a former Fortuna Husky who got his start with Basketball Jones Hoop Camps while still in high school, has played a key role in helping re-establish the camps in the area in the wake of COVID setbacks.
Next week’s camp, which is for boys and girls aged 6-15, will be the third of the summer in Humboldt County and follows successful weeks in Fortuna and Arcata.
“That was really quite a big success for us,” Hunt said of last month’s Arcata camp, which had 50 young players sign up. “The kids had a great time.”
Hunt says he is hoping for at least the same number to sign up for next week’s camp, which runs from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an 8:30 a.m. drop off available.
Anyone interested can visit the Basketball Jones Hoop Camps website.
The camps will feature all volunteer coaches, including a number of high school players.
“We’ve got a lot of high school leaders who have been volunteering all summer long,” said Hunt, who did the same thing when he was at Fortuna High. “We’re trying to instill in the kids to give back to the community, and we’ve got so many kids that are excited about that.”
Hunt says Cotter had a huge influence on him as a person.
“He had that big bright energy,” he said, adding that “I want to help the high school kids the way Geno helped me.”
After re-establishing the camps throughout Humboldt County this summer, Basketball Jones is hoping to continue to build in the area.
“I certainly hope so,” said Hunt, who is hoping to add a camp at Fort Bragg next summer and possibly one over in Hoopa. “Our plan is to keep it going the right way.”