Campers at Rolling River Day Camp in East Rockaway were eagerly running around on Aug. 11 as they followed their counselors to meet special guest Ron Baker, a point guard for the Knicks.
The camp is for children and teenagers between the ages of 2 and 15, and every Friday, there is either a special program or guest. Baker’s visit came to fruition because of a mutual contact between a member of the camp’s staff and the Knicks star. Baker said it was an invitation that he happily accepted. When he first arrived, the 6-foot-4 NBA player was flooded by hundreds of curious campers.
“They keep running over to him wanting to give him a high-five and talk to him,” said Jen Glatzer, Rolling River Day Camp’s communications manager. “He’s handling all of this with such grace; he keeps going out of his way to make the kids smile.”
Baker, 24, participated in many exciting activities. He judged a slam dunk contest for the camp goers, and also signed autographs for them. At the beginning of the day, the campers had an opportunity to take pictures with Baker. He cracked jokes while the photos were being snapped — leaving many of the campers hysterically laughing.
Justin Herrera, an assistant counselor for a group of third-grade boys, said the event was particularly special for the campers. He explained that a lot of them love basketball, but have never met an actual NBA player.
Baker said that growing up in a small-town in Kansas didn’t give him many opportunities to meet his idols, and added that he felt it is really important to interact with his fans. He also said he wants to inspire children who aspire to be basketball players to follow their dreams. This is the topic of his children’s book, “You’re Too Big to Dream Small,” which was released last August.
“Seeing that kids look up to me and want to meet me is really amazing,” Baker said. “Both my parents are teachers and I’ve witnessed kids look up to them and have seen my parents inspire their students. Seeing that makes me want to inspire those who look up to me as well.”
During the rest of the basketball offseason, Baker said he will be training, spending time with his family in Kansas and participating in events to promote his book.