Sertoma Club @ the Villages Hosts Annual Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth Baseball Camp
July 8, 2016
The game of baseball is a classic and historical part of American history. For many children growing up, the hot summer days at the ball park become lifelong lessons and memories.
Unfortunately, for Deaf or Hard of Hearing children there are not always an unlimited amount of opportunities to learn or play baseball in a group setting.
However, thanks to groups such as the Sertoma Club @ the Villages, no child will ever feel left out at the ball field. Each year, The Sertoma Club @ the Villages hosts its annual Sertoma Fantasy Baseball Camp, for Deaf and Hard of Hearing boys and girls.
This year, the camp was held at the Saddlebrook Softball Complex in the Villages, Florida, and 42 campers between the ages of 7-15 attended. The camp was three days long and took place June 13-16.
Bob Farrow, a charter member of the Sertoma Club @ the Villages, started the camp 16 years ago, and joined Sertoma in 1961. His wife, Janet Farrow, has been a member of Sertoma since 1993 and has played a major role in helping to plan and coordinate the camps. Janet said that her club begins preparing for the camp in March, and that although it is a lot of work, she greatly enjoys it.
“We enjoy seeing the kids have a good time,” Farrow said. “They are the reason we do this camp.”
Many of the camp attendees travel from all over the state of Florida to come and play baseball at Sertoma’s Fantasy Camp. For some of the campers though, baseball is unfamiliar, and this camp is their first time ever playing. According to Janet, the first two days of the camp are typically designed to be instructional for this reason.
In the beginning, the coaches teach and run through drills to help the kids understand how to hit, pitch, catch, throw and move their feet.
All of the coaches that participate in the camp are volunteers, but many have an extensive background in playing or teaching baseball. For example, one of the coaches, Pete Smith, has been actively volunteering for ten years. Smith is a local resident, and was once a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
“The kids are very enthusiastic.” Smith said. “They try 100% all the time.”
College students from the Leesburg Lightning Wooden Bat League also volunteered their time to help guide the campers through the basic fundamentals of baseball, and have been doing so for the last few years.
In addition to having experienced camp coaches, there were several volunteers present including Deaf and Hard of Hearing teachers and mothers to help translate and aid the coaches. During the last day of camp, the Villages cheerleaders helped pass out medals and trophies to all of the campers. Supportive parents also filled the stands and joined the fun.
Sheryl Suarez, a mother of two camp participants, Andrew, 12-years-old, and Samantha 15- years-old, said that her kids have been attending the camp for around 5 years.
“The camp has improved the kid’s sports ability,” Suarez said. “It helps them interact and see their friends. It’s a great way for them to get out and try new things.”