RICHMOND, Va. — Five years ago, Coach Shaka Smart and his wife, Maya Smart launched a camp that emphasizes more than sports. Incorporated on April 27, 2009, Shaka Smart Basketball Camps, LLC began as a place to promote self-esteem, nutrition, physical activity—and yes, basketball. To celebrate the anniversary, registration for the sixth camp season will open April 28, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. at

"Basketball to me is more than a game," said Shaka Smart, Virginia Commonwealth University's head basketball coach. "The sport offers exceptional lessons in teamwork, leadership and work ethic, and can give kids a strong foundation of character and physical fitness to build on throughout life."

Since the camp's founding, almost 3,500 campers in grades 3rd through 12th grade have attended 15, one-week sessions. Led by the VCU Men's Basketball coaching staff, current and former VCU players, graduate students from VCU's Center for Sport Leadership and other youth coaches, campers work on basketball fundamentals and play in tournament-style competitions. After intense workouts and a healthy camp lunch, Coach Smart provides campers daily wisdom on teamwork, remaining positive during challenges and good sportsmanship—all lessons that youth can apply on and off the court.

"Basketball camp should be fun. That is our number one rule," said Coach Smart, who often shares stories of how he loved attending basketball camp in his youth.

Another rule of Shaka Smart Basketball Camps is to support the community. Camp has welcomed more than 100 scholarship campers from nonprofit youth-enrichment agencies such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Church Hill Activities and Tutoring (CHAT) and FRIENDS Association for Children, thanks to the support of longstanding sponsors such as Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU and Martin's Food Markets.  Camp has also donated t-shirts and basketballs to Courts for Kids, a nonprofit which aids youth health and well-being in some of the world's most economically disadvantaged communities.

This year's camp sessions will be held:

Session 1: June 23-27 • Open to students entering grades 3 to 12  • $250 before May 30

Session 2: June 30-July 3 • Open to students entering grades 3 to 7 • $200 before May 30

Session 3: July 28-August 1 • Open to students entering grades 3 to 7 • $250 before May 30

For further information about Shaka Smart Basketball Camps LLC and upcoming events, please visit

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