Waukegan, IL 7/20/12 Boys in 6th to 8th grades learned some of the finer points of basketball at 847 Hoops this past week. Some fo the 63 kids registered for the program get their instructions for the Friday session. | Rob Dicker ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 16, 2012 1:35AM
This past summer, 108 youngsters got to experience top-notch coaching and a positive approach to learning during free basketball camps hosted by 847 Hoops.
Founders of 847 Hoops Aron Khurana and Darren Barndt, the latter a lower-level basketball coach at Lake Forest High School, want that number to increase in the summer of 2013.
“I think we have an opportunity to make this type of program grow throughout the area, the state and maybe even the nation,” said Khurana, a 2005 graduate of Lake Forest High.
Khurana’s non-profit organization held two camps for middle-school age players (7th and 8th grades) this past summer at Hinkston Park in Waukegan and in Humbolt Park in Chicago.
A third camp next summer is also planned in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago.
The camps featured numerous area high school coaches and Lake Forest High players, plus had special camp instructors such as former Glenbrook North and Duke standout Jon Scheyer and former Chicago Bear Bobby Douglass.
“I had some parents come up to me and say that the instruction their kids were getting at our camps was better than the instruction they got at camps costing about $500,” said Khurana.
Khurana said that many of the campers could not afford to attend a hoops camp because of lack of funds.
“That’s what our program is all about -- helping kids who might not be able to afford a camp like this,” he said. “We want to give every kid who wants a chance to learn more about basketball to get that chance, even if they can’t afford other big-name camps.”
During the week-long evening camp in Humbolt Park, the campers and their families were provided dinner each night, as well.
At Waukegan’s camp in July, an end-of-the-camp barbecue for the campers and families also was held.
“I think that what makes our camp different is that we strive to create a positive environment for the kids, who might not always get that positive influence when they are not at the camp,” said Khurana. “One Mom came up to me at the end of one of our camps and said that her son has always been shy and hasn’t been able to make many friends while at home, but that our camp gave him a chance to interact with other kids and it gave him a boost of confidence that he needed.
“We hear a lot of stories like that after our camps.”
Khurana’s program uses donations from individuals and businesses to keep the camp free of charge for the players. They recently received their biggest donation to date from the Nelms family.
“We want to continue to grow, and to do that, we need outside help of course,” said Khurana. “So far, the fund-raising has been working well, but we need more help.”
Why does Khurana, who works in the banking credit business in Chicago, spend his summers helping our area’s youth?
“Basketball helped me when I was in school and played for amazing coaches like Darren Barndt,” he said. “Being a part of something like that was a big influence, so I’m just trying to give back if I can to the community and the sport I love.”
The 847 Hoops organization is looking for coaching volunteers for the 2013 season, as well as donations to keep the program going.
To contact Khurana, he can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (847) 373-8217.
Flyers for the upcoming 2013 camps will be distributed throughout the camp’s areas in the coming months at local schools and camp sites.
“We want these camps to continue to grow and provide more opportunities for kids to get quality instruction,” said Khurana. “I’m sure we can do just that.”