Marianna, FL---During the spring, the Chipola Indians field belongs to the team, but during the summer, it welcomes youth campers from all over the area to learn the sport at Jeff Johnson's Baseball Camps.
These 8-12 year olds have some room to grow before they move up to the big field, but are here to grow their games.
"We're very simplistic in what we're trying to do as for teaching them the correct foundation," says Johnson. "You gotta get them to look at you and listen to you and hopefully something you told them during the camp sinks in and they gain some stuff. We see a lot of the guys who I've had since they were seven years old and they're twelve years old and have been in this camp for five years. They come back and you say 'hey, they've picked it up along the way.'"
That focus on the basics is what Johnson brings to each of his camps, as they wrapped working at the plate Thursday.
"As far as a hitting camp, we start at the ground floor and work up with their feet, where their feet are supposed to be.," says Chipola's head coach. "We work up to the grip, the swing, your finish, where you should be when you finish swinging. Then we talk about, we talk a little philosophy stuff about pitching, swinging at strikes, taking a ball, there's all kind of things that we throw in to them. There's three ways you can get better. Number one is having somebody coach you, teach you the right way. Number two playing with good players. Number three playing against good players."
Once they leave camp, it's the kid's job to work on what the coaches have driven home.
"You know it's a very fundamental foundation type camp," says Johnson. "The kids sometimes get a little bored with it because we spend so much time trying to build a foundation for them. But I think that's what they need and as a parent that's what I'd want."
Johnson, his assistant's and his players will hold a skills camp this Monday and Tuesday, putting all the areas of the game together for the kids, while the Chipola high school camp will run later this summer.