Camp Tree

Before heading to Ravens training camp and immersing myself in learning a roster with more new names than the baby ward at GBMC, I spent part of the morning at Lake Clifton /Heritage High in Baltimore.  On another record setting day of heat kids worked on their basketball and life skills with one of the best teachers Baltimore has to offer.

Herman “Tree” Harried, the Athletics Director at the Lake since the late 90’s ,runs the week long day camp every summer.  And thanks to the success of it he’s likely to add Christmas and spring break camps as well.  This is not a camp to make money as the fee is nominal.  It’s not about finding the next great player in the city (although watching 9 year old Davon Moses rain 3’s he just might be.)

Davon Moses makes jump shot

Coach Tree does the camp and opens the gyms year round to give kids a chance to go where trouble won’t find them.  And when there he makes sure the kids hear his message on how to behave.  Yes sir and no ma’am are musts and to always look the person in the eye when talking.  How to treat each other with respect and see how good it feels to have that feeling returned.  Along with a nice crossover it’s quite a day of camp.

Coach Tree has help from those that came before.  Old Lake Clifton stars keep coming back to help.  Darius Gilmore ran the point for the regional championship team in 2007.  Now on his way to play at the University of Wyoming, Gilmore offers the perfect example of what happens when a real role model takes hold in a troubled kid’s life.

Gilmore ran the streets of Baltimore in his early teens.  He saw his best friend killed. His life seemed inevitably headed to the same conclusion. When he arrived at Lake Clifton Coach Tree had to  kick him out of practice nearly every day.  Darius hated the discipline, but found he also craved it.  Within a year Gilmore was nearly running practice himself having become a true gym rat. When you talk to the polite, smiling young man now who dreams of making the NCAA tournament for the Cowboys, it’s hard to reconcile the fact that he nearly fell off the grid.  And watching him work with the young kids today with infectious enthusiasm makes even the  most cynical smile.

During lunch for the campers Coach Tree took me on a tour of Heritage High, wanting to introduce me to his boss Mrs. Karen Lawrence.  A mutual respect for the two was something he wanted to share. And to remind me that not all things we see and hear regarding Baltimore City schools has to involve the police.  Thanks Coach, reminder noted.



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