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07/05/2023 07:25 AM

Slamma Jamma Basketball Camp Back in Session

Al Carfora of the Slamma Jamma Basketball Camp focuses on helping kids to improve their on-court skills in the longest-running basketball camp in the state of Connecticut. Photo courtesy of Al Carfora
Al Carfora, who runs the Slamma Jamma Eastern camp, helps a young athlete with scoring technique at a camp that is currently in its 41st year. Photo courtesy of Al Carfora

A legacy that Art Leary built years ago is continuing to live on. The Slamma Jamma Basketball Camp is gearing up for its 41st year, which is the longest-running basketball camp in the state of Connecticut.

Leary (former Southern Connecticut State University boys’ basketball head coach) started the camp with two other friends in 1982 and has run the program by himself for nearly the last 20+ years. Leary worked the program up until last year, and as a result, Al Carfora was named the Slamma Jamma East director.

Carfora, who runs the Slamma Jamma Eastern camp which includes the towns of East Haven, Branford, North Branford, Portland, Westbrook, and East Lyme, is entering his first year running the Eastern camp. Carfora knows a thing or two about basketball himself, as he played at Quinnipiac University from 1976-1980 and is a member of their Hall of Fame.

Carfora has been a part of the camp for the last 30 years and even his children attended it. Being involved with the longest-running basketball camp in Connecticut means a lot to Carfora, as he prioritizes the growth of the kids and helping them to become better basketball players.

“It is quite the accomplishment to be the oldest basketball camp in CT, but it’s a testament to how good of a product that we put out,” said Carfora. “We could easily just have the kids come and play games all day, but we are dedicated to helping these boys and girls become better players through daily skill work. People know when they send their children to Slamma Jamma they are getting their money’s worth. We have had tens of thousands of boys and girls attend multiple years throughout the state of CT. In fact, many kids attend multiple weeks each summer because they have so much fun. Many of them were repeaters, many went on to play for their respective high schools and some went on to play in college.”

While Carfora will be running the Slamma Jamma Eastern camp, newly named Pomperaug High School boys’ basketball Head Coach Shawn Mobilio will run the Western Slamma Jamma camp. Those towns include Hamden, North Haven, Newtown, Kent, Oxford and Seymour.

Much like Carfora, Mobilio was grateful to be named a director of the legendary basketball training camp.

“Named owner of Slamma Jamma West Region last month was an honor and I’m grateful,” said Mobilio. “I’m very excited to carry on a legacy Coach Art Leary built.”

Mobilio is a well-qualified man to run the camp. He was a point guard at Western Connecticut State University and was also a team captain. He was most recently an assistant head coach for the University of New Haven basketball team.

At the camp, Carfora teaches kids a variety of fundamental drills to help set the base for their careers as ball players, but his most important lesson he hopes to teach every kid is the meaning of hard work and pushing through difficult times in order to be successful.

“We stress hard work, both individually and as a team,” said Carfora. “We conduct daily drills that reinforce dribbling with eyes off the ball, shooting drills, passing drills, rebounding drills, defensive positioning, and involving your teammates. There is always a wide range of abilities, but we stress practice hard but always be under control, and with each passing day push ourselves harder. It’s okay to make a mistake, but don’t give up! Don’t ever give up! All things that are required to be a contributor on your team or in life.”

Mobilio’s camp will feature the same drills and values as he wants the kids to understand how to be a team player and lift up their peers.

“We will work on shooting, ball handling, defense, passing, form shooting and fun games,” said Mobilio. “Attitude, treating others with respect is taught at the camp. Learning to be a team player, playing with one another, and learning character on and off the court.”

The camp is offered for boys and girls from grades 3-9. For the Eastern camp, session hours vary by camp location, with some being from 9 a.m. — 1 p.m. and some being from 9 a.m. — 3 p.m. The sessions are Monday through Friday unless noted otherwise. The Western camp will also be Monday through Friday with session times starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m.

The dates and prices for the camp also vary by location. Most camp prices are around $150-$160, with some being as high as $220. Each location will have five days of sessions. East Haven and Portland will have two different sessions, with the Westbrook location having three. Kent, North Haven, and Hamden will also have two separate sessions.

Kids looking to join the camp for the first time shouldn’t hesitate to join the successful program. Carfora has worked with children all of his life as a firefighter/EMT and currently now works as a teacher. He said there isn’t a more rewarding feeling than working with and impacting the kids’ lives. When asked what his favorite part of running the camp is, he gave a simple, heartwarming response:

“Working with the kids!!”