First Baptist Church Basketball Camp

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

First Baptist Church of Darlington held its annual Youth Basketball Camp last week, providing kids with four days of instruction on the fundamentals of basketball and good behavior.

First Baptist Church of Darlington Basketball Camp coaches Ken Howle (left) and Renny Johnson with Jane Baldwin, widow of camp co-founder Harmon Baldwin.

As usual, the camps were split into two age groups, with kids 7 to 10 coached by Gary and Judy Flowers at the Harmon Baldwin Gym, and kids 11 to 14 coached by Ken and Julie Howle at the First Baptist Gym.

Each day, the 50-odd campers learn and discuss a word of the day such as “respect” or “teamwork.” This is followed by devotions, gospel study, snack time and at least two hours of drilling and court time to hone their basketball skills.

Camp co-founder Renny Johnson says the amount of personal growth exhibited by kids who attend the camps year after year is heartening, and is just what he and co-founder Harmon Baldwin had in mind when they started the camp 18 years ago.

“Harmon and I sat down in his living room in 2001 and came up with it,” says Renny Johnson, adding that Baldwin was cagey enough to hand him the responsibility for registrations and T-shirts. “That was the hardest part of the camp! He knew what he was doing.”

Jane Baldwin visited the camp this year and agreed that her late husband’s vision for pairing athletic instruction with spiritual guidance was inspired, and represents who he was as a man.

“My husband loved basketball, football, baseball – anything sports. For 43 years he worked as recreation director for Darlington County, and he loved to do things like this for the children,” says Jane. “I love to brag on him because he was a wonderful man. He loved sports and he loved people, but first of all, he loved the Lord.”

First Baptist Church Youth Basketball campers and coaches (ages 7 to 10)

First Baptist Church Youth Basketball campers and coaches (ages 11 to 14)

Photos by Samantha Lyles

Author: Rachel Howell

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