There are an abundant number of reasons for NBC being such a significant place, but it all boils down to one crucial component. The people. The people who are coaches, the kids who are campers, the volunteers who help in the store… each human plays an extreme role in making camp a memorable experience for everyone who steps foot on campus. After 12 years, the tiny little girl with corn rows and oversized shorts I used to be is still showing up each summer ready to do work. This alone is proof that it took more than a building and some basketballs to influence my heart enough to want to devote my summers being a servant leader.
Let’s start from the beginning of my days, shall we? Starting as a camper as an eight-year-old and having never been away from them for more than 2 nights can be very nerve racking. Home sickness was very much alive and flourishing in my family. A week away would really test my independence. What I now know, is that the coaches are very aware of this factor and strive to help you through it in every possible way. The most common technique is distraction. From the moment you arrive, coaches are the ones helping you navigate through camp and settling you into the dorms. Former camper, Ryley Whittaker, stated, “The staff and coaches were always fun, caring, and nice”. The coaches were my biggest impact. After a week with them I looked up to each and every one of them. Because of them, I wanted to be better. That one week of positive influence set me up for the whole rest of the year I would be away. These role models were constantly energetic, made me feel like they genuinely cared, and could go hard in the paint. They showed me what integrity and grit on and off the court looked like. They allowed me to express myself and all of its weirdness. The instant connection that I made was the reason I kept coming back. “NBC Camps at Auburn challenges athletes to reach their potential on and off the court combining an enthusiasm and intensity for basketball and life that is unparalleled. NBC Auburn staff members invest 100% into the lives of every camper working to help them improve in all aspects” (NBC Camps). Individually picked, these coaches are the best of the best. Yearafter year, coaches from all leagues got to know my friends and I, the mini fridge full of fresh fruit and guacamole in our room may have had something to do with that. Coaches began coming to our room after nightly meetings to enjoy snacks and converse about life. This only made me fall more in love with the camp. After a good 4 years, I was basically in training to become a future coach. Camp director, Roger Smith, had already recruited me, now I had expectations to meet even when I was away from camp in order to maintain my “recruitment”. For that, I was a better human year around knowing I had a lot to live up to. I spent many weeks with sticky fingers due to excessive amounts of smoothies being made during other weeks of camp. Finally, I got to see the other side of camp. I was allowed to sit in on coaches’ meetings and hear coaches speak life into each other even when they were away from campers. I knew I would be in their shoes one day. Another couple years of volunteering as a the smoothie girl and being consistently influenced by the surrounding coaches eventually landed me a spot on the coaching roster. Now, it was my time to make that same difference in someone else’s life.
I thought the learning would be done once I became a coach… boy was I wrong. The campers are the people who allow us to do what we do, their presence is the most important. They challenge us in all aspects of life. “I love coaching because it gives me the opportunity to directly have an impact on someone’s life” (Sipe). Most coaches you ask about why they love coaching have answers that all revolve around them being able to make a difference in the camper’s life. Not because of the pay, not spending time with friends, but because of what the kids do for them. The questions campers come up with about life in general are questions we don’t always know the answer to, we always have homework for the next morning to report back with answers. Trying to please each player no matter what their skill level is helps teach us how to be patient but competitive in creative ways. Most importantly, we get to reflect on what children in modern society are experiencing. Some kids have been through more than any of the coaches have… they are the ones teaching us. To see a young kid who lost both their parents show up an hour early to the gym in the morning with the biggest smile on their face reminds you to not let the little things affect you. To see a kid who is bullied at school for the way they look stay after lunch to pick up dirty dishes without anyone watching makes you question your character. It’s those moments that make you want to be better. Kids come on scholarships because they may not be able to afford camp, they’re the ones working the hardest. They don’t let the opportunity pass by unnoticed. They are grateful for the meals they are receiving rather than complaining about being hungry all day long. Those are the people. The people I want to show up for each summer. These are the kids we all want to show up for. A current coach, Micah, who has a sister who also coaches at NBC said, “NBC lets me work with two things I love: kids and basketball. We don’t know who we will get each summer, but we get to love on kids right where they are at. It’s such a blessing to be able to pour into their lives, while they are blessing us” (Jones). And it’s true, we wouldn’t be there without the kids.
Somewhere in the middle of coaches and campers there is a small group of people making the rest of camp possible. Store staff. These are the people who make everyone else’s life easier. When I’m not coaching, this is the role I fill. The store is home to everyone. Coaches, campers, parents, and visitors. Mingling is heavily suggested in this area. The store girls have a unique opportunity to be able to meet everyone on a different level. Come in and chat about whatever you need. These are also the people who can name any camper and tell you the code to every item sold in the store. Mother Hen of the store, said, “NBC creates a culture of positive reinforcement through the building of meaningful relationships and promotes facing challenges together. Every year I always know that I will leave being a better me”. The most accurate statement, everyone we encounter makes us better one way or another, whether it be having to deal with a difficult situation, or being blessed by a certain moment within the day. When an angry mom calls camp, the store workers are the composed humans who try and make everything at ease. Make friends with the store staff, get on their good side, for when camp food gets old after the 3rdweek in row of having Arby’s, you will wish you had someone to bring you some real food, and that someone is them. On the mornings when your body is crying for caffeine, go to them, Starbucks runs are a daily routine that you could very well be a part of. On a deeper note, this group has a bond that allows them to make amazing work be done. They start each day off with bible study and work together throughout the day taking pictures, selling merchandise, ordering goods, organizing the days, and serving the Lord. Keeping the store staff on your good side is one of the smartest choices you can make.
The people. They do it all. They make it what it is. Coaches, campers, staff. I can’t say it enough. The influence they all make on each other is something you can’t find anywhere else. The relationships formed cannot be faked. I continue to show up to NBC each summer because the people I work with make it an infectious place to be. This summer can’t come quick enough.
“Auburn Academy – Seattle WA Basketball Camps.” NBC Camps, www.nbccamps.com/basketball/camps/auburn-adventist-academy/.
Jones, Micah A. “What You Love about NBC.” 15 Mar. 2018.
Menashe, Bailey A. “What You Love About NBC.” 15 Mar. 2018.
Sipe, Hunter. “Why You Coach at NBC.” 16 Mar. 2018.
Whittaker, Ryley DQ. “What You Loved as A Camper.” 17 Mar. 2018.