The Youth Camp of CHAMPIONS: Why DistinXion Camps are Set Apart

When I was a kid, I loved summer. No school, a bunch of fun activities, friends and sunshine galore. The thing I looked forward to the most, though, were summer camps – VBS at church, sleepaway camp in cabins in the mountains of Colorado, swimming camps down at the University of Texas – I wanted to go to them all. For some reason, adventure seemed more tangible when you were thrown into a group of kids your own age and got to play with them all day long. Even if you were learning, it felt different when it wasn’t a teacher giving the information, but a fun counselor – you knew they were older (and therefore cooler) than you, but you also knew they were younger (and therefore cooler) than your parents or teachers. You’d do anything to be their best friend, and all they lived for, it seemed, was to make the few days at camp a blast for you. 

I became a year-round swimmer at the age of 11, and for better or worse, this limited my time in the summers. I had to carefully choose which camps I would participate in based on my growing dedication to the sport. While my previous summers had been spent having fun and learning about my faith or who I was as a person at camp, my choices were now limited to ones which promoted my development in swimming. 

Now, don’t get me wrong – that summer, I got to go to Texas for a week to learn from the best coaches in the NCAA. I made friends and met Olympians and learned an incredible amount about my swimming technique and the sport as a whole. But I was only able to go to that once because of how far away it was from my Denver home. Every summer after that was spent wishing I could either go have my emotional needs met at the camp in the mountains, or have my athletic needs met at a camp like the one in Texas. Sleepaway camps took me away from my sport, and swimming camps were often too expensive to go to. 

When you’re a young athlete beginning the long journey of commitment to your sport, consistent camp experiences just don’t feel like an option. 

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My sport was swimming, not basketball, and my hometown was about 1000 miles further west than southern Indiana, but I bet you or your child have felt this way at some point. Whether a seven-year-old newbie wanting to soak in as much as possible or a 12-year-old ready to put their nose to the grindstone, you’ve likely been stuck trying to combine the three essential parts of a good camp:

  • Basketball technique development

  • Personal growth

  • Geographic/financial convenience

Oftentimes, for a camp to be worthwhile, it must hit all three of these circles. If it only hits two, it may be something you participate in once, but not consistently.

For example, the Texas camp I went to provided me with swimming technique development and personal growth, but it was neither geographically nor financially convenient for my family, so I was only able to experience that once.

The sleepaway camps I went to in earlier years were filled with personal growth and were fairly geographically close and inexpensive, but because they did not develop me as a swimmer, I was unable to participate in them as my time commitment to swimming grew. 

The third option is one that I have not spoken into yet: the one- or two-day sports camps that promise to provide the best instruction while also remaining convenient for families. They travel to different teams around the state, or even nation, and they are able to offer a decent price. But they end up sacrificing personal growth under their time crunch – when a camp only lasts a few hours, they often decide they must be dedicated solely to athletic development. Unfortunately this comes with the implication that the only identity a child has is that of “athlete”, and that the only aspect of themselves they have to develop is their athletic skill. 

If you or your child has been to a DistinXion Youth Camp, you may already know what I’m getting at: it doesn’t have to be this way.

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Summer camps should never be a sacrifice for your children, nor should they be one for your time and finances. This is the mindset that drives the DistinXion Youth Camps; we don’t want to hit one or two of those circles. We provide all three. 

  1. Personal Growth

    Athletics is a wonderful opportunity for children to experience teamwork, dedication, hard work, and even failure (and their comebacks), developing essential life skills in the process. However, in order for these life skills to reach their full potential, becoming beneficial rather than detrimental, they must be cultivated. 

    At DistinXion, we recognize the opportunity our camps provide to pour into young athletes and start this development young. The earlier kids form quality character and positive attitudes, the more natural those qualities become. If this character is engrained in them from the start, it is much easier to carry into high school and potentially college athletics, and more importantly, into adulthood.

    By combining lessons to both coach skill development and teach wholesome character through our C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N.S. acronym, we are able to more efficiently and effectively use the few hours the kids are with us to make what we hope is a lasting impact on their lives.

  2. Basketball Technique Development

    If you are invested in a sport, you want to learn from the best of the best. For me, I had to go down to Texas to be coached by the best in the nation. Luckily for you, Indiana as a whole has a long-standing tradition of excellence in basketball. This excellence is already at your fingertips, and it’s elevated even more by the fact that DistinXion’s program has been developed by the Zeller family. Though the Zellers no longer make appearances at camps, the drills and techniques utilized in our camps stem from their collegiate and professional basketball experiences. 

    Additionally, the head coaches at each camp have a vested interest in basketball; almost all of them work closely with the Zeller family, and there are some who have played collegiate basketball themselves. While we know that each person is more than just an athlete, we also recognize that athletics can be a significant part of a child’s life, so we tap into that area of growth as much as possible. 

  3. Geographic and Financial Convenience 

    Like I’ve already mentioned, camps out of state can be expensive and time-consuming. Not only this, but camps run by “the best” tend to have marked up prices that reflect the level of training the kids are receiving. When you factor in the cost of flights, car travel, hotels, food, the camp fee, and all the time this will inevitably take from you, the word “convenience” is not exactly what comes to mind. 

    As I’ve already said, DistinXion camps are run by highly experienced and skilled individuals using a high level program. But as a nonprofit organization, our goal is to make these sessions as affordable as possible, both in time and in money. Camp fees are low, scholarships are available, and we operate in as many different areas of southern Indiana as possible. Whether this is near our home base in Bloomington, or as far south as Floyds Knobs, we want to be able to reach as many kids as we can. And this doesn’t just include Hoosiers; the camps further east tend to draw kids from Ohio, the ones on the western side drawing those from Illinois. And the ones down south, like Floyds Knobs, are conveniently located just a hop, skip, and a jump (across the bridge) from Louisville, Kentucky. 

    By offering a plethora of locations for affordable prices, we hope to pass on our character development and basketball knowledge to all the families we can.

We believe that the sport of basketball lends itself to a great potential for refined skill development and positive personal growth. We would hate to see anyone excluded from that potential simply because of outside obstacles, which is why we have worked hard to develop a program that not only offers basketball and character development, but does so in an affordable and convenient way. If you’ve been stuck in the mud trying to find a camp that does all three, DistinXion can be the tow truck that pulls you out of it. We would love to give your kids the adventure they’ve been looking for – and more than that, we would love for you and your children to become a part of the DistinXion Family!