Every summer, kids flock to basketball camps. Camps are fun for kids because they can play all day and hang out with friends. Basketball camps can also teach kids many things … basketball and life. I know that when I was young I loved the camps and learned a lot from them.

Most camps have guest speakers at some point in the camp. I have listened to many as a camper and as a counselor. As I drove home from working at Xavier’s basketball camp, I thought about what I would say to camp if they asked me to be the speaker. It is difficult to tackle a basketball camp, especially with young children because most do not intend to be a basketball player, even at the high school level. So, I think the speech should be about life, but with basketball as the central point.

I would start by talking about wanting something versus needing something. We all need food, water, shelter … etc. People want a variety of things … a big house, an expensive car, things like that. If you asked camp how many campers would like to play in the NBA one day, the entire camp would raise their hands. If you asked how many campers would want to play in college one day, the result would be predictably the same. It is not a question of wanting, it is a question of necessity. Who will need to get to the NBA to be happy? That will end up deciding who does it and who doesn’t.

If you need something to live or to be happy, you will do everything possible to achieve it. If you need to get to the NBA to make your life, you will be extremely focused. You won’t be distracted by alcohol, parties, drugs, and whatever else gets in your way. Basketball will be your priority and you will put incredible effort into your practice habits. It’s not easy to skip a party, go do your second exercise of the day … yes, second, because it won’t be a question if you haven’t exercised yet. It’s easy to get lazy and skip a shooting workout here and there or take a week off weights because it’s summer and you want to relax.

Now, we have parted with wanting something and needing something. At this point, campers need to realize that they want it badly enough to need it in their life. Is it sport? Will it be a doctor? If you are going to be a doctor, then you should put academics as your priority, everything else is secondary to academics. If you have a passion in your life that you are willing to put as a priority, then you will love waking up each morning to progress in that dream.

When you don’t know what you want to do, when you don’t have a passion … life is hard and usually boring. At that time, introspection and experience of different things is very important. There is something that everyone loves and if you can find a way to do it for the rest of your life, then you should do it. The truest saying might be “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” The destination should be important and you should not lose sight of what you are working towards, but the journey is what makes the destination worthwhile. All the best memories in your life will be from the journey you worked so hard on and shared with people.

So, summing things up here, find a passion in your life. Something that you need in your life, something that you will love waking up every morning to start working on your goal. Once you figure out what it is … work hard and don’t let anything distract you from making it happen. As you work towards your life goal, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Enjoy the people you meet, enjoy the crazy things you have to overcome to make your dream come true. Work harder and smarter than others who want the same dream. That “and” in the last sentence is big. Some work hard, others work smart, but very few do both.

I hope everyone can take something out of my speech and apply it to their life, even if it is a small thing. If everyone took something from my speech, I would be very happy. Have fun on your trip!

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