Ron Harris watched his deaf son laugh and roughhouse with the other children. Harris beamed proudly. His son has been having a wonderful time, he said.
Parents and volunteers agree, though, that the clinic teaches children more than just basketball techniques and nutritional facts.
"This builds character," volunteer Mikayla Gunn said.
Jones often sees kids fall victim to drugs and addiction. Harris said the summertime, especially, breeds trouble. He thinks children have too much unstructured time during the summer months.
He said the camp keeps them away from trouble.
It also offers positive reinforcement to children who might not get enough love and attention at home, Jones said.
Counselors shouted encouragement to the kids Saturday. Many said they enjoyed playing with the children.
"These little kids, they bully me," Gunn laughed, saying she loves children and the energy they exude.
Counselors say the experience has been rewarding.
"As long as I see the smiles on their faces," Booth said, "I'm satisfied."
Those counselors have become role models for the students, Providenti said. They have built strong relationships that will last for years to come.
Many counselors know, firsthand, how important these camps can be. Several attended similar camps as children. Booth, for example, went to the Charleston football camp founded by Mark Mason, a former standout linebacker at Marshall.
"[Coach Mason] has been a great mentor to me," Booth said.
He said he hopes to become an elementary school teacher and perhaps -- like Mason -- a coach.
Booth and Jones said efforts to combat obesity must begin at local schools. Public schools should introduce more physical education into the curriculum, Jones stressed. She said elementary and middle schools now have as little as one day of physical education each week.
That change happened recently, she said. She used to take physical education classes three or four days a week.
Free athletic camps like the one she co-founded are crucial for combating obesity, Jones said. She and Booth eventually want to expand the camp into a weeklong program every summer.
"We've got a good thing going," Booth said. "The sky's the limit."
Reach Laura Reston at laura.res...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5112.