Anybody happen to notice where today's Boys of Summer have gone?

If the Washington area is a valid barometer, chances are good that you'll find hordes of them shooting hoops. Not only that, but they're probably doing it in somebody's basketball camp. There they are, ages 8 to 18, miniature Magics, baby Birds and Isiahs.

For area coaches, summer camps have become a business. A big business. A very big business, some critics would say. File these summer camps along with TV-radio deals and shoe company contracts in the category entitled, "Coaching Empire."

For campers, however, it's basketball heaven. If you add the total number of boys participating this summer in sleep-away camps run by Georgetown University Coach John Thompson (400 boys over two weeks), DeMatha High Coach Morgan Wootten (1,760 over four weeks), University of Maryland Coach Bob Wade (about 110 in one week) and former Terrapins Coach Lefty Driesell (about 800 over two weeks), you'll find more than 3,000 youths spending an average of about $260 per week for tuition to learn, among other things, how to play the pivot and how to overcome peer pressure and stay clear of drugs.

It's the art of basketball mixed with the art of growing up. There are different twists to the camps: Driesell's includes a state-of-the-art weightlifting session with Terrapins strength coach Frank Costello; Wade's camp stresses academics, with classes in the morning hours when, Wade said, "the mind is freshest." (It's fitting that his camp is called "Bob Wade's ABC Camp," the "ABC" signifying "Academic Basketball Camp").

Campers freeze when Thompson walks by, towel draped over his shoulder. Their eyes seem to say, "That's just like he does it on TV!" Thompson is renowned for coaching his Hoyas with an iron fist and now he laughs about having posted a sign near the front of McDonough Arena this summer that read, "Welcome to Hoya Country." Thompson said, "One mother dropped off her son, then said, 'Can't I go in there.' I said {smiling here}, 'No, ma'am. Your son's mine now.' "

Wootten is the quintessential high school coach. Informal, but in charge. He quotes Vince Lombardi and often instructs campers with quotations like this: "Be the best you that you can be."

Wade gives individual attention to his campers on the court and smiles about how one camper, a third-grader, was found hunched over in bed reading his class notes with a flashlight at 11:30 one night.

Driesell, who points out that directing a camp is fun, but hard work, one day reminded his campers who is in charge when, upon hearing talk that someone's radio had been pilfered, announced he would like to personally take the guilty party to the police station "and book him myself."

Indeed, summer basketball camps have become tres chic. Although none of these four area camps attract great numbers of blue-chip high school stars for the benefit of college recruiters, such as the Five-Star Camp in Pennsylvania or the AFBE-Nike Camp in Princeton, N.J., or Bill Cronaur's travelling "B.C." camp, you'll find talented boys, some even with famous family ties, at area camps.

Ray Leonard and Wes Unseld, for instance, send their sons to Wootten's camp. Patrick Ewing's nephews are at Thompson's. And so on. The 3,000-camper total at these four camps doesn't include the waiting lists that have formed at Camp Thompson and Camp Wootten or the totals at other area camps. Some estimate that there are as many as 350 summer basketball camps currently being operated across the nation.

"Years ago, camps got real popular, then they dropped off again. Now they are going up again," said Driesell, who has run a camp for the past 25 years, the first seven at Davidson and the last 18 at Maryland. Driesell, whose agreement to resign as coach at Maryland allows him to continue to have his camp at Cole Field House, has two one-week sessions this summer. There were 381 campers in one and 391 scheduled in the other, totals which he said are down marginally from last summer.

Further, this is not to imply that all 3,000 boys in these four camps are local youths. "We've got kids from California, Alabama, Detroit," said Wade, whose camp, like Driesell's, operates at Cole Field House.

Wootten, whose camp is held at scenic Mount Saint Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md., said, "We've got 'em from everywhere: kids from Canada, Myrtle Beach. And we've got a coach from Northern Lights, Alaska."

Driesell said he draws campers from "probably 20 different states," while Thompson, whose camp is held both at McDonough Arena and at the Yates Center on the Georgetown University campus, noted he has one camper this summer from Kuwait and another from an Indian reservation in Idaho.

Among these four camps, parents can choose between the U.S. Olympic team coach (Thompson); a man who is arguably the most successful high school coach in the nation (Wootten), whom, the camp brochure proudly notes, has won more than 800 games and helped every senior on the team for the past 27 years to receive a college scholarship; an Atlantic Coast Conference coach who directed three Baltimore Dunbar High teams to No. 1 prep national rankings (Wade), or one of the most colorful, durable college coaches in history (Driesell).

"My name probably has something to do with it," Driesell said about his camp's drawing power. He added, "I've won a few games, too, you know."

None of the coaches will address the issue of competition between camps. It's a touchy subject. Wootten did allow, "Kids may go to one camp one year, then a different one the following year. I think competition can help; it keeps you innovative."

When asked about the profitability of these camps, Thompson, Wootten and Driesell all said virtually the same thing: "Not as much as people say." Some basketball insiders say coaches can make as much as $25,000 to $50,000 on summer camps, depending on such factors as whether they were able to negotiate sweetheart deals (rent, food services, etc.) with the university out of which they operate.

Wade, who is about to enter his second season at Maryland, is clearly the new kid on the area summer camp block. He has about 110 campers while Driesell has 45 counselors alone. Wade has one trainer, while Wootten has five. It's interesting to note how Wade's camp is small enough so that all campers practice in Cole Field House. He said, "It's important for them to know they are inside, playing where their idols played."

Conversely, Wootten's camp is so large that many of his instructional sessions are held on outdoor courts. Wootten rationalized this by saying, "They say all the great players are made on the outdoor courts . . . There's just something about the blacktop."

Of course, Wade knows that building his camp to the status of the other area camps will take time, and he is a patient man. Thompson recalled that when he began his camp in the mid-1970s, he had trouble drawing campers. Thompson said, "We probably turn away more now than we had in the entire camp then."

When Wootten and St. John's High School Coach Joe Gallagher began the Metro Area Basketball School at St. John's in 1962, the two had only 40 campers "and by the third week we were letting kids in free."

On the one hand, Wade said, "I'm not in competition with anyone. If I only attract 10 or 20 kids, then those are kids who will be given my undivided attention. If another {coach} has more kids, that's fine. I'm here to serve the community. It's also good public relations for me, a way for me to become more known within the community. Also, if the kids enjoy the university experience, maybe they'll decide to come here {as students}."

Yet, on the other hand, Wade said of his recent entrance into the local camp market, "I understand what's happening. I understand the circumstances. I've become acclimated to what has to be. It's something I don't lose sleep over."

Wootten said his camp will play host to 440 kids at each of its four one-week sessions. That's where they drew the line. "The truth is, if you can make a layup and withstand being away from home," said Wootten, "we'll take you."

Wootten's camp brochure includes a quote from former UCLA Coach John Wooden, who said of Wootten, "I know of no finer coach at any level -- high school, college or pro." The brochure also includes the promise that every camper will "play in league games and individual competition before top college coaches."

Wootten said such promises don't necessarily feed false illusions. "Any kid here dreams of playing college ball," he said. "Kids come here figuring Division I or Division II coaches will be here and the kids figure, 'If they get a look at me, it can't hurt.' "

Each of the four coaches has a different approach to running a summer camp and each camp, it seems, is an extension of his personality. To some coaches, bringing in guest speakers is a vitally important drawing card.

Driesell's speakers are so prestigious that, grouped together, they likely could win 50 games in an NBA season (John Lucas, David Robinson, Moses Malone and former campers Johnny Dawkins and Tommy Amaker). Wootten's speakers might coach you to the Final Four (Dean Smith, Bobby Cremins, Rollie Massimino, Jim Boeheim, plus Ralph Sampson and Adrian Dantley). Wade's speakers are of the young-phenom type and have ties to either Maryland or to Wade's former employer, Baltimore's Dunbar High (Buck Williams, Reggie Williams, Tyrone Bogues, Adrian Branch).

Thompson only has one speaker -- a member of the D.C. government who speaks each year on drug and alcohol abuse.

Thompson has restricted his camp to 200 boys per session and said that spots have become so difficult for boys to obtain and that he receives so many phone calls from parents trying to get their children into the camp, that "it reminds me of people wanting Big East tickets."

Thompson said his camp has been helped recently because the Hoyas have "received a lot of exposure nationally and internationally." He said, "I don't pay any attention to {competition from other camps}. We don't advertise anymore. We don't have speeches anymore. We've been lucky."

Wootten said having speakers is important, albeit a tad expensive. He said some speakers "can run up to $1,000 {apiece}, although pros can run you more.

"You want to have good speakers, but speakers can only complement a camp."

Wade said his speakers all appear for free, as a favor to him or to the university. "I think the speakers are important," Wade said. "They are the media people, the people the kids look up to. If a kid can grasp one concept from a clinician, then he's succeeded."

And what does each coach hope his campers will leave with at the end of the week?

Wade: "The knowledge that athletics and academics go hand in hand and to know that one can compete in the classroom as well as on the basketball floor. We want them to have a wholesome experience. A lot of parents have said they were very impressed with the academic concept of the camp. They realized that within four or five days you can't make someone a Phi Beta Kappa, but they wanted to challenge their kids {intellectually} during the summer months."

Driesell: "We want them to have a well-rounded week. We think we have one of the best camps in the country. We stress fundamentals; we have different ball-handling and dribbling stations and we had a defensive rebounding station and we work on offensive moves. Every year, we have great speakers, too. Moses {Malone} was here the day Mugsy Bogues got drafted and all the kids asked him questions about that. John Lucas told them how he got started on drugs and wrecked four or five cars and how now it's a day-to-day thing for him."

Wootten: "The No. 1 objective is that we hope each and every kid will love basketball more at the end of the week than at the beginning. Anything else is just a bonus. If this happens, that means they will leave with a little better self-image."

Thompson: "To be courteous. To respond to your coach. To deal with the fundamentals of the game and not to try to do the sensational. I tell them to be able to make a left-handed layup as well as a right-handed layup and to be able to make a chest pass. All the basic things. We try to have a lot of fun and a lot of foolishness." Staff writer Sally Jenkins contributed to this report.