As many campers were diving into swimming pools or dribbling basketballs at outdoor camps, a summer camp of a different kind made its yearly visit to the Philadelphia area last month.
Inside a lecture hall at Villanova University, Play by Play Sports Broadcasting camp allowed children, ages 10-18, to test their broadcasting skills alongside the professionals they admire and, in some cases, aspire to be.
Founded by Comcast Network high school television announcer and basketball promoter, Jeremy Treatman, this year’s weeklong camp included news conferences with area athletes, such as Villanova’s Daniel Ochefu and Chester High star Rondae Jefferson, a McDonald’s All-American who is committed to Arizona. Classroom sessions were taught by professionals from NBC-10’s John Clark, Fox Sports’ baseball analyst Seth Everett, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and WIP’s Paul Jolovitz.
“It’s a unique week that allows the kids an opportunity to share their passion for sports and broadcasting. We try to give them a chance to try anything that they may possibly see one day as a real sports broadcaster,” Treatman said.
The camp — which offers both day and overnight options — is in its 12th summer in Philadelphia. It also hosts summer programs in Montclair, N.J., Baltimore, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and Massachusetts.
“Times have changed,” said Treatman, who co-owns the camps with his partner Steven Goldstein. “So many kids are as interested in broadcasting games as they are in playing sports themselves. And ESPN celebrities are almost as popular as these kids’ favorite athletes. These kids love performing on camera and they love meeting successful people in the business.”
At camp, every kid made on-air anchoring tapes, pre- and post-game show tapes, sports talk radio show tapes, as well as sideline reporting videos on a trip to Citizens Bank Park. The camp owns its own simulated studios with green screens and specific backdrops designed for each activity.
“One day you’re interviewing NBA and college players, and the next you’re standing inside the Phillies locker room — it’s a very long dream I have for a week,” said Brock Landes, a middle schooler from Huntingdon Valley, who celebrated his Bar Mitzvah this year and has teamed with two other campers to make their own blog online. This is his fourth summer attending the camp.
“And I’ll be back next year,” he said. “ This camp has helped me so much. For my sports talk show at school, I’m never nervous to talk in front of people — or share my opinion on something.”
Sports radio host Jolovitz has become a fixture at the camp since its inception in 2002. He says he returns each year because he is impressed with the talent he sees. “There is so much talent, and these kids are undoubtedly the future of sports broadcasters,” he said.
Indeed, some former campers have already landed jobs in the field, including several Jewish campers. Treatman estimated that about 40 percent of the 4,200 campers who have attended the camps in this area and nationwide have been Jewish.
Among those who have made it is Scott Braun, who attended the Baltimore and New Jersey sessions from 2004 to 2006 and is now a full-time studio host at the prestigious MLB Network. Adam Lefkoe of Bucks County is the sports director at the ABC affiliate in Louisville. Brian Seltzer, who grew up in Elkins Park, works for ESPN Radio and broke the story of Michael Vick signing with the Eagles in 2009.
“It’s great that at such a young age, many of these children know what they want to do,” said Jolovitz. “They have a passion for what they want to do. You don’t see that often. I tell these kids my job is like I work in a candy store. I’m happy, everyone I work with is happy.”