Bases were loaded last week at Finlayson Park as 125 young ball players took part in the Beyond the White Lines Softball Camp.
While the organization has been hosting camps for six years, this was the first year the Beyond the White Lines (BWL) has held its main summer camp in Sicamous.
Organizer Joni Frei, said the camp had been held in Kelowna for the past three years. But with growing registration numbers, organization required a venue with more ball diamonds.
Sicamous has fit the bill better than anticipated, offering space for the players, accompanying family and staff to stay, learn and play.
“I know for our camp, (parents) all booked their holidays around this, so they’re on houseboats and they’re at bed and breakfasts and they’re at hotels – they’re all over the place,” said Frei.
Frei has been thrilled with the community’s support for the camp, from the staff at the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre to Jake Dewitt, who helped make connections and get things organized. In turn, the response from participants and parents has been positive.
“They always like to go to Kelowna, and then when we moved it to Sicamous, there was some, ‘Really, come on, we love Kelowna,’” said Frei. “And now that they’re here, I’m getting feedback, ‘This is awesome!’”
Frei said this year’s camp had an impressive slate of coaches and instructors, including a former national team coach from China and professional players, including American pitcher/record holder Sara Pauly.
But as respectable as the coaches may be, Frei said BWL doesn’t advertise them, instead focusing on what the camp offers in terms of development, both professional and personal. It’s this, she says, that is responsible for the camp’s increasing popularity.
“We’re not trying to get kids to camp because one person is here they have to meet,” said Frei. “We’re getting kids to camp because of the experience, because of the vision that we have. That’s the difference, I think one of the differences between what we do and maybe other people.”
Asked if the camp will return to Sicamous next summer, Frei said she hopes so. She credited all the local people working behind the scenes who helped make this year’s camp a success.
“I imagine it’s going to (return) provided we can do all the things we need to make it special,” said Frei.