GREAT FALLS — The First Church of the Nazarene in Great Falls does have a basketball gym of their own, but it’s not big enough for all the kids they have in this year’s GF Nazarene basketball camp. That’s why they’re getting some help from neighboring gymnasiums.
Fifteen years ago, the church started a free basketball camp with a vision. It quickly turned into something much more than that, according to camp director Jeff Lauver.
“The first year we did it, we did lunch after camp. Day two we had kids come back and the last time they ate was when we fed them lunch. Then we started doing breakfast and lunch. So the need was different, right. There was this need we didn’t know existed in Great Falls.”
The need they found 15 years ago is still around, but the church is happy to provide kids with a camp they’ll never forget. They can’t do that without the help of the community. Lauver said Lithia Motors helps fund the camp and gets donations from around the community, including donations of space. Fortunately, they’ll be able to use the gyms at Great Falls High and Central Catholic because the church’s gym just isn’t big enough.
“The start of it was seeing a need in Great Falls for quality camp basketball experience. The need is there. It’s turned into something the community really supports,” Lauver said. “I’m glad it’s still the town I grew up in. I love Great Falls and that people are so supportive of stuff like this.”
Having a lack of kids to play certainly isn’t an issue, with 200-plus kids signing up within five days. It’s the adults that they need. Lauver and coach TJ IronBear estimate they need 20 or more additional coaches due to how many kids they’ll have.
“I love it. Being a coach on the outside of the camp and being able to see them. What they learned here, incorporate it into other coaches games in the middle school and high school levels. It’s been great,” IronBear said. “You see them fall in love with the game too. They’re kind of hesitant when they come in here the first couple days. But when they’re leaving, they don’t want to leave. They want to continue playing the game and I think that’s super important.”
Although registration is full for the camp, you can go online and register to be a volunteer or coach. You must fill out an application and complete a background check. Camp will be June 20th to the 23rd from 8:30 to 12:30 daily.
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