Over 70 Athletes and 80 Buddies from four different locations participated in our half-day, week-long Buddy Up Summer Camp Program this summer. Buddy Up Summer Camp began in Columbus, OH and traveled to Sarasota, FL and Naperville, IL for the second summer. In 2019, Summer Camp expanded to Grand Rapids, MI! Within one week, our Athletes experienced so many new things – skills, activities, and friends. Tennis, fitness, and confidence foundations were certainly strengthened. 

At Buddy Up Summer Camp, our Athletes continued to build upon the tennis and fitness foundation that they work on at weekly Buddy Up Tennis clinics, from relay races and a progression of tennis stroke development to games, rallying, and matchplay. Coach John Purnode’s highlight from the summer was when a local tennis academy (Tennis RX) joined our Sarasota Athletes on the courts for games and friendly competition: “Through the experience of teaching our Athletes, and specifically the games day with Tennis RX in Sarasota, I learned so much from our Athletes on the courts, including that when you give your best effort and stay positive, you can achieve anything!”

In addition to tennis and fitness, each Athlete was exposed to new activities, ranging from music therapy to canvas painting to self-defense classes. Our Athletes walked away from camp with added skills and even hobbies that they can bring with them into their daily lives. Athlete Susan Jefferis from Columbus enjoyed the music therapy session so much that one of her career ambitions is now to become a music therapist! Similarly, Athlete Kathleen Daley from Naperville had the opportunity to share her Jiu-Jitsu skills with her fellow Athletes as she demonstrated many of the self-defense moves that were taught.

Our mission was certainly strengthened throughout the summer, and it was exciting to see all of our participants grow. Kyle Retan, parent of Athlete Gracie, noted how she watched her daughter’s “confidence blossom” throughout the week in Grand Rapids, MI. As is common with other Buddy Up Tennis programming, the Athletes were not the only ones building confidence and self-worth. The Buddies and Coaches also gained new skills from the Buddy Up Summer Camp experience.

We took a new staffing approach to the Coaching Team this summer: We created a traveling Buddy Up Summer Camp staff group, including two Coaches who taught on the court and led activities off the court. “The highlight of my summer was meeting the different Athletes, Buddies, and Parents at the four locations and seeing the impact that Buddy Up Tennis has made on so many lives,” said Coach Kathleen McGuff, a member of the traveling Buddy Up Summer Camp Team. Click HERE to learn more about the two Buddy Up Summer Camp Coaches who traveled to all four locations this summer. 


Thank you to all of those who helped make the 2019 Summer Camps an amazing experience for all involved! This includes local sponsors, Down syndrome associations, and businesses in our communities that provided services such as martial arts, hip hop, and yoga.

Click HERE to check out how much fun our Athletes had on and off the courts at Buddy Up Summer Camp.