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The team left this evening and are scheduled to arrive early tomorrow morning. Team members are; Jason Maks (leader), and son Dillon, Blaine French, Chris & Brandi Jackson with daughters and son Kayden, Kinsey & Tyler, JT Froese, Will Sears and son, Tyler.


Once in Buenos Aires, the team made quickly it through immigration and customs, picked up the rentals and followed James Greenwood, our host to Pilar. We made our way to Siga La Vaca for some lunch and met our host’s family and friends. We enjoyed some Argentine beef and good fellowship before heading to the hotel to check in and catch up on sleep. After a nap, we prepared for camps to begin tomorrow.


The team started off, after waking up from some much appreciated sleep, to find breakfast of eggs, ham, an assortment of other food items and coffee. Blaine shared his heart about the loss, at separate times, of both his parents and challenged us to find peace. Our camps are back at Club Sportivo Pilar (CSP) for a second consecutive year, but now under new management, Marcelo. He welcomed us with open arms, allowing us to use his facility and actively ensuring that everything we need is available. We started off the morning camp with an immediate increase in the number of campers from last year, when we had a single participant! This year we started with 22. Camp went fairly smoothly as we had to be flexible with time and stations. We wrapped up at 12:30 and elected to eat lunch at the club to save on time. Most of us had the Argentine equivalent of ravioli filled with ham and cheese. We started off the afternoon with another 23 campers. The afternoon session is geared towards older kids and it did not disappoint. Many of the kids are clearly high level basketball players. They bring a great attitude to the court and a willingness to continue to work to hone their skills. We are also conducted a condensed third camp at one of the local clubs, Athletico Pilar. We ran through mass ball handling, some crosscourt drills, quick stations and discussed our message of hope to approximately 50 boys and girls. We then got to watch the athletic director and basketball director at the club pick the coaching brain of Will Sears. Meanwhile a few of us had a chance to play some pickup ball with the more advanced boys. What a great time!


Today started off much like the day prior with breakfast at the hotel. The team has become accustomed to the breakfast offerings at the Centro de desarollo Cristiano (El Nazareno) so there were not as many strange looks after trying something for the first time this morning. During breakfast JT and Dillon presented today’s challenge, to be still and trust. We arrived 30 minutes ahead of camp start time to find that some of the kids were already in gym. It was so reassuring to all of us that the kids were excited enough to arrive so early. We started camp promptly and went through mass ball handling, cross court drills, stations and Last Second Hero, which is always a camp favorite and today was no exception. It was perfect when the last kid in line drained a three to finish on a high note.


Today we presented Plan during our large group time. Building on the Purpose from the first day, we used the example of utilizing a plan to build the gym we have used for camp. The kids could relate to the building plan and allowed us to then the plan for each of us. The afternoon session went much like the morning session. Camp flowed and we were able to see kids more involved, more confident and continuing to evolve their basketball skills. The breakout groups stood out as the kids seemed to open up a little more than the day prior. Following camp today, the entire team headed over to a favorite club from our visit last year. Basquet Pilar Penarol is a club in downtown that would be considered slightly underprivileged by US standards. The people that run the club are beyond kind and the kids who attend are full of love. Our visit tonight is one of two planned for this week and tonight certainly did not disappoint. When we got to the club we were greeted with a welcome sign outside the gym and a plethora of smiles on the faces of kids, parents and coaches alike. We introduced ourselves and said hello to some old friends. Blaine French stepped into the leader role for camp and did a fantastic job. He was a complete natural. It was a memorable time with good people and, on a cold night, very much appreciated hot chocolate. We concluded the day with team time enjoyed with pizza. Will discussed the change day over day in the development and intensity of some of the kids. Kayden commented on the level of energy the girls brought to camp today. Brandi shared a story about a kid who came to camp with his grandmother. It was discovered that boy’s family lives in our host’s own neighborhood. In a town of more than 300,000 that probably doesn’t happen every day. They might have never met if not for this basketball camp.


Another morning in Argentina started off with breakfast back in the hotel, followed by the challenge from Will and Tyler. Will opened by telling the story about his coaching journey and referred to it as a journey of perseverance. He and Tyler challenged us to persevere, regardless of the difficulty of the task at hand. We walked out of the hotel to beautiful blue skies with the sun shining bright. It looked a lot like Texas, but the 40 degree weather sure didn’t feel like Texas in July. With jackets on we headed to the club for the third day of camp. When we arrived at camp there was once again a number of kids already shooting in the gym. We put our stuff down, grabbed some balls and started shooting with them. It is such a great feeling of joy to see these kids day after day and the happiness they seem to genuinely have for camp. We kicked camp off once again with mass ball handling. Today we added some more complex drills to the mix. The boys here are extremely good on average at the game of basketball. As Will can attest, their offense is fantastic, but there is a lot of opportunity on the defensive side of the ball. We later went into crosscourt drills and again added more complex drills to keep the kids advancing in their development. We spent time rotating through stations and then moved into large group time. Today we discussed the Part that we play in the Plan. During this session we talk about the story of Richard Hurd, a basketball player who is known for the one part he played. The afternoon session went much like the morning. Of notice today was the continued growth of the group with the oldest boys. Brandi shared that some of the boys are driving from 90 miles away to come to camp. It is amazing to see the coaches work with them and the genuine interest the boys take in learning from the coaches.


We headed to the gym and kicked mass ball handling off quickly. As the kids have grasped most of the skills very well, we moved through and proceeded to cross court drills and team competitions. The teams which have been separated by age and gender competed within themselves for first and second place. More importantly the kids unknowingly competed for a coach’s medal, which is awarded to the kids who best exemplify the personal attributes Hoops for Hope models. It was great to see how hard the kids competed. They really don’t complain. They just give it their all, all the time. Today we presented our fourth P, Place, then presented certificates and balls to the campers. They were extremely thankful for our spending time with them this week and for the basketballs. The afternoon camp went much like the first and ran very smoothly. As we wrapped up we were able to share some conversations with the older boys over hot chocolate and some pastries. They all have a favorite NBA player and they vary widely in who they like. It was just great social interaction with the kids. We started back towards Club Penarol for another visit with the kids we had met on Tuesday night but were informed that they had cancelled our engagement because the rain was coming through the roof and made the court unsafe. We informed James that we were going regardless. Once at the club we were met with wet conditions, but we were also met with smiling faces. The kids were so happy to see us and we were so happy to see them. The court did indeed have some wet places but not enough to stop anyone from shooting around. Blaine led the camp through mass ball handling before taking the opportunity to present Part and Place. Blaine again did a great job with the kids and they did a great job listening to his message. We finished up at Penarol with a real treat, Choripan, sausage in be tween two pieces of bread. The director of the club had made the sausage and cooked it for us. As good as all the other food has been in Argentina, this was a personal favorite. We wrapped up and headed back to the hotel for team time while we ate empanadas and ice cream from a local place. It was a good time to reflect on the week and to acknowledge each person and their contribution to the success of the team. One thing about Hoops teams is that they are all different, but they are all special.


Tomorrow is our travel day. We are thankful for our time together and pray that the impact we can have on the kids goes on after we are gone.