Spring is in the air, and with it, the knowledge that America’s pastime, baseball, is once again being played at numerous different levels.
The camps provide kids the chance to learn and refine baseball skills with current Bells’ coaches and players, and have a whole lot of fun while doing so.
Bells’ General Manager Stephanie Morrell says that coaches have been holding a couple summertime camps for more than a decade. But this year, an expansion to spring — and even fall — is on deck.
“We just felt like the community wanted more baseball programming,” she says. “There’s not a ton of options for younger athletes to access these developmental opportunities. So, we wanted to be able to help provide that.”
With options for multiple age ranges — from 6 to 12, as well as 13 and beyond — these camp sessions offer kids a chance to learn baseball in a fun, no-pressure environment.
“There are kids that come out who’ve been playing baseball for years, and there are kids who come who’ve never swung a bat before,” says Morrell.
And because Bells athletes are also college students, time is taken during camps for players to explain where and why they attend college. Beyond the fundamentals of hitting, catching, pitching, and fielding, camp-goers learn positive values like how to be a good teammate.
The camps are certainly fun for kids, but the coaches and players also greatly enjoy them.
“Most of our guys, to get where they’ve gotten — where they’re close to playing minor league baseball and playing at a high level — they’ve all played as little kids and they’ve loved the game forever,” Morrell says. “They love really passing that on to kids.”
When and Where
All camps take place at the home of the Bellingham Bells, Joe Martin Field.
Things kick off with “Game Ready Spring Break Camp” sessions on April 4 and 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and April 6 and 7 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Each session costs $150 and registration opens April 1. The camps, which cover all manner of baseball skills, cost $150, but limited scholarship opportunities for low-income children are being offered through Whatcom Educational Credit Union (WECU). Scholarships include options of 50%, 75%, and 100%. Scholarship applications can be found on the “Coaches Camps” page underneath the “Community” tab of the Bells website.
Summer sessions will kick off June 13 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with the “How to Train With Your Athlete” camp, a free community offering for parents of children learning to play baseball. Topics will include how to properly play catch, do tee work, and advice for helping baseball-playing children.
A “Learn to Play” camp will be held June 21 through 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., for children aged 6 through 12.
In July, multiple skill-specific camps will occur.
Pitching and hitting clinics, for ages 6 through 14, take place July 15 and 16. Pitching sessions will occur from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., with hitting sessions from 12:15 p.m. to 2 p.m.
For more advanced players ages 12 and above, catching and infielding techniques will be addressed in a 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekly series between July 11 and August 1, while an advanced hitting clinic will happen on those same dates from 5:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
For the first time, the Bells are also offering a softball camp, to be held July 22 and 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Both boys and girls ages 6 through 13 are welcome.
A first-ever fall instructional league will also take place the second and third weekends in September, with times to be decided. Registration for the league, for ages 6 through 14, will be available July 1.
Some camps, like the 12 and above offerings, are limited to around 20 athletes, while others will have more space available.
All camps will be conducted in accordance with any Washington State COVID-19 regulations, including mask-wearing, should they be re-instituted at that time.