Eight days of basketball, activities and entertainment. That is the slogan for the RF5 Camp, which hosted by Real Madrid star Rudy Fernandez in Majorca, Spain, his native island. The camp is for children born between 2000 and 2011 and once again, RF5 Camp was sold out this season. It takes place in the town of Pollenca from July 7 to 13 with more than 200 kids enjoying their time there on and off the court. As a boy Fernandez knew that as soon as he became a professional basketball player, he wanted to put together the best basketball camp he could host.
"I have been running my basketball camp for many years now," Rudy said. "When I started my professional career, I knew I wanted to have a link with kids and I had been to many basketball camps growing up. I wanted it to be different and for the kids to see that the player was fully involved, and that's what happened. I try to be 100% involved and spend almost 24 hours a day with the kids for a full week."
"I try to be 100% involved and spend almost 24 hours a day with the kids for a full week." - Rudy Fernandez
Many kids travel from outside Majorca to be with Rudy and his sister, five-time Spanish League champion Marta Fernandez, for a whole week. Upon arrival, everyone gets a basketball kit - reversible jersey and pants, two short-sleeve T-shirts, a pair of sunglasses, a backpack and a hat.
"We have two options. A lot of kids, more than half of them, come for the whole week and get to sleep in Pollenca. We have another option, especially for kids in Majorca or who have a house close to where the basketball camp takes place. They can adjust and only come to our activities and stay with us, but sleep in their own place," Rudy explained. "On the second or third day, we have a 'press conference' with the kids in which they ask the questions. Most kids are a bit shy the first couple of days, but after that, when they have seen me for three or four days, they see me as another instructor."
One of the main goals of the camp is to teach kids how to have healthy habits, which is always a plus not only in professional sports, but also in life. Even though basketball is the main focus, there are a lot of fun activities at RF5 Camp. Campers spend a day at Western Park, a waterpark in nearby Magaluf; and enjoy the camp's great facilities for playing football and baseball, have Zumba training and of course swimming at the nearby beach.
We try to make our basketball camp a different experience," Rudy said. "Of course, there are a lot of talented players and we try to make them even better, but we also do a lot of non-basketball activities. We have amazing facilities and play all kind of sports, the beach is really close and we do activities there, too. We try to make the most of our facilities and make it a fun experience for everybody."
This year, EuroLeague and two-time EuroBasket winner Laia Palau made an appearance to talk to the campers about her professional experience in basketball and offered a lot of valuable advice.
"We try to bring a professional player to each camp. We had the luck to bring a lot of great players to all the basketball camps we did. We try to give the kids the opportunity to meet other players, not just me," Rudy said.
Of course, the main focus is on basketball. In this year's camp, there was a basketball session focusing on the 'zero step,' a rule which was modified last season and can give a lot of advantage to those who dominate it. There are teams and mini-leagues and a lot of basketball contests with Rudy always involved. He knows what the ultimate goal is, which is having a good time.
"It is a priority for us that the kids have a great time, from the very beginning. Our first goal is that everyone leaves with a smile on their faces, and that is what has happened throughout the years. It is a lot of work, but my sister and I love to do it. We are a family and try to make the kids at our basketball camp feel like family, too."
RF5 Camp has drawn attention from many sponsors, who come together to make it possible. Lidl makes sure every camper enjoys a healthy breakfast to start the day with great energy. Lidl is taking advantage of Rudy's camp to present a brand new, ambitious "Snack Plan" which focuses on teaching kids how to prepare and enjoy a mid-afternoon snack. From Alsa, the bus company that provided the campers' transportation; the camp's main sponsor, FNG Logistics; and Iberostar, RF5 Camp gets plenty of help everywhere.
"I am very thankful to all the sponsors who invest in our camp," Rudy said. "We try to give them as much visibility as possible. For instance, Lidl makes sure our campers enjoy healthy food, which is great, because more and more professional players are keeping an eye on that to work better, physically and mentally. Our guests stay at a great Iberostar hotel, and many companies are offering a helping hand, and we try to give them back by putting together the best camp possible for them to be proud of their investment."
RF5 Camp has its own YouTube channel and you can follow them on its official website http://www.campusrudyfernandez.com as well as on Twitter (@CampusRudy), Facebook (Campus.Rudy.Fernandez.5) and Instagram (rf5camp).