April 21, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 21, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

‘Step It Up’ Provides Unforgettable Summer Basketball Experience

Step It Up, a sleepaway camp centered around basketball, is eagerly gearing up for its eighth year of sessions this upcoming summer. Created and helmed by former D1 NCAA college basketball player Yogev Berdugo, who was also a player in Israel’s first professional league, the camp is open to boys and girls in grades four through 12 and provides its campers with a “summer basketball experience of a lifetime.” The camp provides a variety of training programs in basketball-skill development as well as mental fortitude, game theory and self awareness, all while also providing an enjoyable summer camp experience. The College of New Jersey serves as the camp’s base of operations, and the camp is overseen by a staff of live-in camp directors and counselors, 11 of whom previously attended the camp as campers.

Founded in 2012, Step It Up was created not just to teach kids basketball, but also to imprint on them important life lessons and skills that they can carry with them into adulthood. Described as a “hardwood heaven combined with an inspiring Jewish experience while still maintaining the nurturing summer camp environment,” the camp boasts an impressive array of professional and collegiate basketball players who will also serve as instructors. The camp’s level of basketball instruction is second to none, and has produced countless successful middle school, high school, collegiate and pro players. With campers coming in from many different backgrounds and schools, Berdugo described the camp as a family.

“We tackle every facet of the game, both on and off the court,” Berdugo explains on the camp’s website. “Our dedicated team of coaches has developed and designed a proven program that empowers our campers, enhances their basketball skills, encourages teamwork and sportsmanship and instills confidence in every aspect of our campers’ lives. Our experienced and highly motivational team prepares our campers for tomorrow’s game and the road ahead.”

A typical day at Step It Up begins with morning minyan and breakfast. Basketball practices and training then follow throughout the course of the day. Speaking with The Jewish Link, Berdugo elaborated on the camp’s process and what the main objectives of training are.

“Our goal is to give each and every camper the blueprint on how to work on their games, a better understanding of the game of basketball and what it takes to succeed on all levels,” Berdugo shared. “Basketball, if used correctly, can be a vehicle for life. This is something we try to impart to all of our campers.”

Following the daily basketball sessions, the campers then partake in electives such as ping-pong, card games, swimming in the pool and many more. Leagues also take place in the afternoon and are followed by Mincha and Maariv and then an evening activity, such as karaoke, movie viewings and nightball. Every two weeks the staff takes the campers off campus on trips to places like Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor and more.

“It’s a life-changing experience,” Berdugo said. “The feedback that we get back from kids is that their time at Step It Up really had a positive impact on them. What we are really trying to do here is develop good people. Our camp may be focused on basketball, but it’s so much more than that. We want them to come away from the summer having learned a thing or two about themselves and maybe be a little more confident in their abilities. ”

Step It Up is a camp open to all kids looking to get better at basketball, regardless of their level of experience or skill. Last year was the first time they incorporated a program for girls, and it was deemed a huge hit. Berdugo explained that after the kids arrive at camp, the staff works rigorously to see what level each child is at and which kids to pair them with to ensure they are placed for optimal training and growth.

“First and foremost, our first goal once the kids step off the bus is to make them feel at home, so we do a lot of social mixings,” Berdugo added. “Once they feel comfortable, then we want to get a feel for where each child is at, experience-wise. At Step It Up, we divide the kids not just by age and grade, but by their skill level. So if a kid is just starting out, our system works so that they will be playing with fellow campers who are the same way. And our system is very flowy; if we see a kid who’s doing well in practices and maybe is a little better than they know, we’ll move them up a level so that they can get the challenge they need to be able to continue to grow.”

Berdugo described himself as a lifelong fan of basketball. Having grown up playing the sport, he further developed his skills throughout middle school and high school, eventually moving to Israel where he played professionally. He has also coached basketball at Yeshiva University, where he helped current coach Elliot Steinmetz build a winning culture. Together they brought the university its first-ever home playoff win. For Berdugo, he sees Step It Up as his way to pass on his passion for the sport to the next generation and to transform Jewish basketball into something greater.

Step It Up has two- to eight-week sign-up options, this upcoming summer beginning June 26. There is a 5 percent discount for signing up siblings, and an early-bird discount of $400, which is valid until November 30. If you are interested in registering a child or learning more about the camp, visit timetostepitup.com. A video providing an in-depth look at the camp can be found at https://vimeo.com/165050261. Additionally, you can call 888-600-0908, or send them an email at [email protected].

By Adam Samuel

�Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at adamssoapbox.com.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles