School is almost over, so kids are thinking about summer vacation. That means swimming at the pool, no more homework and . . . summer camps.
Lots of kids go to sports camps in the summer. There must be a million different kinds. Soccer camps, basketball camps, tennis camps -- you name a sport and there's bound to be a camp where you can play it. My nephew and some neighbors even went to skateboarding camp. Camps are great ways for kids to have fun and stay active over the summer.
Recently, I found out about a different kind of sports camp: sports broadcasting camp. That's right, there is a five-day camp at the University of Maryland Shady Grove campus in Rockville where kids ages 10 to 18 can learn what it's like to be a sports announcer.
Campers go to a Bowie Baysox baseball game and tape play-by-play descriptions of the action. They also tour the Montgomery Community TV studios and practice reports and interviews. In addition, sports broadcasters such as Comcast SportsNet anchor Chick Hernandez and Washington Wizards TV play-by-play announcer Steve Buckhantz talk to the campers about how they got into broadcasting.
What sports fan hasn't thought about being a sportscaster? Guys such as Bob Costas and James Brown seem to have the best job in the world: They get paid lots of money to watch games and talk about sports. (I do that for nothing every time I watch a Nationals or Redskins game.) Being a sportscaster must be a great job: Stacey Dales-Schuman gave up playing pro hoops with the Washington Mystics to be an ESPN announcer.
But being a sportscaster can be pretty tough, as Evan Green of Upper Marlboro found out last summer at broadcasting camp. "They make it seem so easy," said Evan, 12. "But when you get behind the microphone you have to be very specific. You can't just say, 'He hit the ball' or 'He took the shot.' You have to really describe the action."
Evan had fun at camp and even met his favorite broadcaster, Johnny Holliday, the voice of University of Maryland sports. Evan, who plays third base for Grace Brethren Christian School in Clinton, still dreams of playing pro baseball. But now he thinks about broadcasting, too.
"It seemed like a lot of fun," he said. "And it's more than just calling the game. You get VIP passes and meet the players."
And, oh yeah, there's one more thing Evan remembers from one of the camp field trips that made sports broadcasting seem pretty cool:
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports column and is the author of sports novels for kids.