Learning the fundamentals of baseball in a fun, non-competitive way - that's the goal for Brookline High School baseball coach Joe Campagna, and he's been doing just that for 10 years with his Warrior Baseball Camp.
The long-tenured camp kicked off again last week and will run through July 2 at Warren Field in Brookline. For roughly 65 young Brookline kids from age 15 on down, it's a chance learn the game from the successful head coach of Brookline High's own Warrior baseball team.
But unlike the intense feel of a Bay State Conference season, Campagna just wants camp games to be safe and fun.
"It's not a high-intensity camp," said the long-time head coach. "We do drills in the morning and we do want the kids to get better."
The kids are broken up into three age groups, with the youngest kids playing a pick-up game of baseball with a big, oversized plastic bat and play pickle. Players from age 7 to 11 age get a chance to learn the mechanics of proper throwing and other fundamental tools.
Old campers face live batting practice, learn the functions of infield players and hone their skills rotating through the nine field positions.
"The older kids do a little bit more," said Campagna. "But it's not a competitive camp."
Even though the "competitive" feel of the camp may not be pressed, players keep coming back year after year. And you may even see a familiar face running drills instead of participating in them.
Alex Rozek — the Warriors' junior starting catcher last season — was busy throwing soft tosses to hitters in the batters cage when he reflected on the camp. He participated when he was younger for two or three years before he started helping Campagna out.
"I didn't think that I would be doing this," Rozek, who starts his senior year this fall, said with a chuckle about the camp that he has been a part of for several years.
For Campagna, the camp is about more than showing kids a good time. The longtime coach said he has had a hard time getting younger players to commit to baseball when they reach the high school level, and to make matters worse, many talented players who comes up through the Brookline Youth leagues choose to leave for the local private schools to get more recognition.
"It's about growing relationships with some of these kids," said Campagna. "We are not a big program, so every kid that we lose is a big loss."
But for now the camp is all about enjoying the nice weather and having a good time. The young ballplayers will learn the game, and in the afternoon, play some wiffle ball to limit the wear and tear of throwing for five hours.
It's all about having a good time, according to Campagna, and judging by the smiling faces, there is plenty of that going around.
For more information on the Warrior Baseball Camp, go to the Brookline High Baseball website.