Taevion Calixte dribbles in for a basket, above, while the younger kids congratulate each other, below.
Pine Peace — Boasting two collegiate basketball players, several coaches and lots of enthusiasm, Freshwater Church’s Summer Slam basketball camp last week at the recently renovated Pine Peace court drew more than 75 students from across St. John.
The students, in grades four through nine, took part in three days of basketball clinic exercises and drills Monday through Wednesday, June 30, through July 2, and then squared off in the Summer Slam basketball tournament to wrap up the camp on Thursday, July 3.
The camp was hosted and organized by Freshwater Church pastor Terry Lansdale, who worked with V.I. Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation and had a lot of help from a visiting mission team.
Lansdale and his wife Marta started Freshwater Church about a year and a half ago after visiting the island for almost a decade.
“We’ve been here about 16 months and we’ve been coming down since 2005,” said Lansdale, who hails from Branson, Missouri. “Ever since we saw the basketball court renovated, I’ve been thinking of hosting a camp. We wanted to do something for the community and for the children and it was perfect thing.”
The camp was certainly a hit with St. John youngsters who took full advantage of the fours day of basketball instruction and play.
The Freshwater Church mission team numbered about 20 young adults mostly from the New York metropolitan area with one member coming from as far away as Alaska.
Team members, who paid their own way here and stayed at Cinnamon Bay Campground and private homes, didn’t have a lot of free time on their hands. The mission team members spent their days playing and teaching the finer points of basketball while their evenings were spent volunteering at the St. John Children’s Village.
“We’ve kept them pretty busy and everyone has had a great time with the kids,” said the Freshwater Church pastor.
Lansdale is a “church planter” who started and grew several churches in Missouri before bringing Freshwater Church to St. John, he explained.
“I knew I would come down here, but I had to wait while I was working in the states where I planted and grew a church,” said Lansdale. “The time was right for us to come and we’re excited.”
On the final day of Summer Slam, the campers were separated into two age groups and put their new found skills to work, competing in a tournament. After some close competition, both Coral Bay teams came out on top. The young Coral Bay team won in dramatic fashion with a three point-buzzer beater in double over time.
It was an exhilarating end to a exciting week for St. John basketball players. And Freshwater Church is not finished offering sports opportunities to St. John youth. The church plans to host a T-ball league for three- to seven-year-old’s this fall.
For more information about Freshwater Church, which meets at Hawksnest Beach on Sunday at 10 a.m., check out the group’s Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.