THOMASVILLE -- When Houston Rockets guard Charlie Ward returns to Thomasville on June 22-23 for his eighth annual summer basketball camp, he will be instructing four full gyms of players.

Marvin Dawson, camp director, said with a week left before the camp begins, the registration is going well with 160 youths registered. There are 80 spaces available for the camp, and Dawson said he will keep registration open until all those spaces are filled or the camp begins.

"We will have some walk-ups every year, but we try to prevent that as much as possible," Dawson said. "We'll take it all the way up to the day, because if we have an open spot and there is someone who wants to be there, I don't want to turn them away from this opportunity."

The camp is for boys and girls in 4th-12th grades and costs $25. That registration covers both days of instruction, lunch both days, a basketball, jerseys and shorts and awards.

The camp will be held at four schools, Brookwood, Thomasville High School, Thomas County Central Middle and Thomas County Central High School. The girls will attend Brookwood with 4th-6th grade boys at Thomasville, the 7th-8th grade boys at Central Middle and the 9th-12th grade boys at Central High School.

The camp begins at 8:30 a.m. both days and concludes at 4 p.m.

In addition to scrimmages and offensive and defensive drill stations, Dawson said there will be contests held for one-on-one and three-on-three games as well as 'Hot Shot' and free throw shooting drills.

Along with those lessons in basketball, Ward and other guest speakers will deliver life lessons.

Ward will speak Wednesday at Thomasville at 9:45 a.m. and Brookwood at 1:30 p.m. He will then speak Thursday at Central Middle at 9:45 a.m. and at Central High School at 1:30 p.m. Other speakers include Charlie Ward, Sr. and ex-Pittsburgh Steeler Chris Sheffield.

"All of Charlie's camps are Christian basketball camps," Dawson said. "Basketball is just the tool to get them to attend the camps. We also work on building character and work on life skill as well as basketball skills."

Those life lessons are what makes the camps special to the Thomasville community said Dawson.

"It means a lot to me," he said. "A lot of professional athletes don't take the time to give back to their community.

"It's overwhelming, after camp, to get a letter back from a parent saying, 'Thank you for the gift you've given my child.' I've received so many letters from parents who have noticed a difference in their children based on the Charlie Ward basketball camp."

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