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Hey Kids, Pack Your Mic, It's Camp Week!

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While NFL training camps are starting all over the country, a different kind of camp is taking place in New Jersey. Broadcasting camp. ↵

↵Now in its eighth year, the ↵Bruce Beck & Ian Eagle Sports Broadcasting Camp teaches kids how to become a real live sports personalities. Toupees and frumpled suits cost extra. ↵

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↵The five-day camp is going on this week, and Eagle took time to visit my show Thursday to explain exactly what a bunch of teenagers do at broadcasting camp. ↵
↵⇥"I don't know what people think when they hear, 'sportscasting camp.' Oh, what does that include tetherball? Is there bug juice involved? No. ↵⇥

↵⇥"It's a lot packed in to a five-day period. We have 50 kids this year and there is legitimate ability there. The ages range from 12-17 and so far, so good. It's always been a fun experience and every year brings something new." ↵⇥

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↵We've all done play-by-play of our old Baseball Stars and Tecmo Bowl games, haven't we? EA Sports and Madden instituted replay for a reason. Before games had the capability of recording their own seasons, I used to keep notebooks full of stats and create mock seasons on both Double Dribble and Blades of Steel. ↵

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↵Oh no, I've said too much. ↵

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↵But seriously, everyone in this business – or every sports fan for that matter – has looked into the mirror and pretended to be Marv Albert calling the last few seconds of an NBA championship. We've all gone to the "Oh Doctor" and "Oh My" wells when breaking a tackle or making a spectacular catch with our friends. Now, thanks to Eagle, Beck and a host of guest speakers in the industry, kids can actually learn how to do it the right way. ↵

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↵⇥"We focus in on as many areas of the business as we can without overwhelming them," Eagle explained. "Its kind of an on-the-surface look at everything, which means sports anchoring, hosting, talk shows, radio play-by-play, TV play-by-play, the idea of sideline reporting, working on your writing skills – because as we know anybody in this business, at some point you had to put your writing skills to work – and all of that bundled up into four days." ↵
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↵On the fifth day of camp, the kids get to go to a Somerset Patriots game and conduct interviews with players and coaches – including Pats manager Sparkly Lyle – after the game. But that's not the best part: ↵

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↵⇥"The two best kids that we deem over the course of the week actually get to call play-by-play in the booth with the Somerset Patriots. Each will get half an inning with their normal play-by-play guy Brian Bender. In the past, we've had 13-year old kids calling play-by-play live on the air at a Somerset Patriots game. It's actually pretty cool if you think about it in the big picture." ↵
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↵Heckuva way to start a clip reel. But what about those kids who come to camp and are too shy to produce the kind of bombast one needs to be a sports media personality these days? ↵

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↵⇥"You're always concerned that you're going to get some shy kids who don't want to participate. I try to put them at ease. Bruce Beck and I, right out of the gate, say, ‘look, if you're shy, we don't know you. Nobody knows you in here. This is not the week to be shy. This is the week to participate, to come in front of the room, to take part in the exercise and to soak it all up.' ↵⇥

↵⇥"So far so good. It's really been a terrific experience." ↵⇥

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↵The camp is only one week per year, so your kid has missed his or her chance to take part in 2009. And before you ask, I've already tried to convince him to start Sports Broadcasting Fantasy camp for us older kids. We'll have to wait until next year too. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.