LA CAÑADA — While teaching, training and working with impressionable young basketball players was certainly at the heart of the annual Flintridge Prep summer basketball camp, hosted by the boys' basketball coaching staff, there were more than a few reasons as to why the clinic continues to remain a success.
For some of the roughly 50 participants Wednesday afternoon, the two-week long camp, which ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays from Monday to Thursday and concluded Thursday, offered different options.
"I like this camp and my parents think it's a good way to get me out of the house," said 11-year-old camper Bennett Oaks, who is making his third visit to the clinic. "I've had a lot of fun working on different drills and just getting better."
Oaks and several other participants most enjoyed the 14-minute scrimmage sessions set up toward the end of the day.
Participants were broken up into five teams that played either seven-on-seven or eight-on-eight on parallel courts with one team rotating in every 14 minutes and another squad rotating out to watch game film.
While the camp, led by Flintridge Prep boys' basketball Coach Garrett Ohara, emphasized instruction and discipline, there was also a realization that quite a few players were still in the developmental stages.
"We hold these kids accountable and expect that they'll listen and pay attention and try their best," Ohara said, "but I also understand that some of these boys and girls are 8 or 9 and so we're a little more patient and little more relaxed."
Ohara also had little prizes that kept his campers' attention, such as handing out camp shirts and passing out Popsicles during morning breaks.
"I had heard that this was a good camp," said 13-year-old Ethan Luu, who signed up partly because his friend and San Gabriel Valley Club teammate Noah Ford, 13, also joined. "It's been fun to play with Noah and I think the scrimmages have been the best."
Ford also found value.
"There are drills that you learn here that will make you better," Ford said. "I knew most of the people here, but I didn't know some of the coaches. They've been great."
Ohara was aided by his assistant coaches, including longtime veteran Rudy Bojorquez, who enjoyed giving back to the younger community.
"I've been doing this now with Garrett for, oh, I don't know — maybe 15 or 17 years — and it never gets old," Bojorquez said. "You have to have a lot of patience with the kids, but it's so enjoyable working with them and rewarding when you see them learn and apply something you just taught."
Ohara noted that each year the camp also served as a homecoming of sorts for basketball alumni, including 2013 alums Kareem Ismail and Jedrick Eugenio, who helped coach.
"It's great to see these guys come back and give back, that's rewarding," Ohara said. "Sometimes we'll get people we don't expect like Kenyatta Smith (2011) and it's always nice to see how they're doing."
It was Ismail who cheered loudly when 13-year-old AJ Nicassio jumped between two defenders and snagged a rebound that led to a fastbreak and lay-up the other way for his team.
"It's nice to know that you're doing well," Nicassio said. "The defensive drills were the toughest, but other than that, this has been fun."
Ohara and the coaches ended practice acknowledging some of the top plays and players from Wednesday before a final huddle and break.
As players scurried to waiting parents, Ohara was pleased to see the grins and hear the snippets of stories from the happy and grateful campers.
"We have a small number of players from our middle school who are here and a lot of others are from the outside community," Ohara said. "It's nice to give those kids just a little taste of what we do here at Prep. We're not offering a day care service, but a chance for the kids to improve and take what they've learned and apply it. I think more than a few will."