Chris Dudley Basketball Camp, One Of A Kind
By sarahhecht Posted in: chrisdudley
Walking down the hill from the parking lot to the main housing area of Cedar Ridge is just like heading to any other retreat site. Tranquil and lovely, you soak in the beauty of the moment away from the sights and sounds of the city. Upon closer inspection you start to pick up on what’s really happening and that fuzzy feeling you get when you know you’re witnessing something special starts to seep into your skin and raise the tiny hairs on your arms.
Nestled in the Vernonia hills, you’ll find the unique Chris Dudley Basketball Camp, a lush expanse of green sprawling down a cascading hill where the camp’s namesake hosts 75 campers every summer, all of them Type 1 diabetics.
Trail Blazers Alumni Ambassador Chris Dudley has suffered from Type 1 diabetes since he was 16 years old. Establishing the Chris Dudley Foundation to educate youth about physical activity while dealing with diabetes, Dudley’s camp tackles issues from basketball technique to dietary education. More importantly, it fills the campers with the confidence they need to succeed and overcome the challenges they face as diabetics.
“The mission of the camp for them is how to play a vigorous sport, whatever that may be,” said Camp Director Chelly. “It’s for them to come out, play a vigorous sport and learn how to control their diabetes at the same time so that they’re not sitting out, they’re being advocates for themselves.”
With the summer sun shining upon the incredible basketball courts, campers from 23 states ranging in ages from 10 to 17 learn basketball skills from 25 elite area coaches and absorb life skills from their counselors, all former camp attendees themselves.
During the five-day stay at Cedar Ridge, wellness is key, so testing insulin levels is the norm. So is counting carbs and learning from the camp dietician. This year, staff and campers welcomed former Trail Blazer Brian Grant, a man who shares something in common with almost every face on the grounds. He too is battling health problems and he speaks candidly about his struggles.
“Life gave us some similar issues to deal with, like what you all have had to deal with diabetes,” Dudley said as he introduced Grant to the group. “We want to be able to talk about a range of issues, from on the court to off the court.”
Forty minutes of sharing and answering deep questions like, “Were you scared when you found out you had Parkinson’s disease?” and “Did you try to hide it?” erupting from kids of all ages, kept Grant and Dudley engaged with the attentive congregation.
A candid Grant didn’t hold back either. Acting as a public voice for Parkinson’s disease just as Dudley does for diabetes, he inspired those listening by comparing epic on-court battles with the trials he now faces, engaging his audience by relating to them. Smiles lit up faces as eager heads nodded and laughter spread at his anecdotal stories.
Visits from enriching characters are the norm at Dudley’s camp. Grant joined ranks with former Trail Blazers Terry Porter and Jerome Kersey as leaders who have contributed to the camps mission: To empower and inspire all young people with diabetes to live active and dream BIG!
As you walk back up the hill to leave you can’t help but smile. You’ve just witnessed something special. Children fighting to overcome adversity and take control. Inspiration you’ll carry with you for a long time to come.
Get a taste of the Chris Dudley Basketball Camp from the photo gallery