Five years ago Pat Doud, a fourth-grade teacher at Nay-Ah-Shing grade school in Onamia, decided he needed a summer job.
And area baseball players, especially Baxter youths, are glad he was in need.
Doud began his Baxter Parks and Recreation-sponsored baseball camp in 1996 and continued it through the years, introducing kids to the sport of baseball and guiding them through the fundamentals of the game.
"I love kids and I love baseball," said Doud, whose fifth annual camp was completed Thursday. "I love teaching. I could work construction or be a teller, but I wanted to be with the kids."
While many sports camps stress the competition and the importance of winning, Doud's camp provides a different environment. In the camp's advertisement, it is described as thorough, intense and fun, with the word "fun" capitalized and underlined.
"Baxter parents want fundamentals and to give their kids direction," Doud said. "Our philosophy is not so competitive. It's more of a nurturing, compassionate environment. We feel it's the best way to teach kids."
After five years, parents know how Doud runs his camps. And that trust has allowed him to bring the competition to a higher level.
"We try to still be competitive, but not bring the stress too many kids already have in their lives," Doud said. "We have that happy medium."
Despite time conflicts it (the camp came the same week as the Brainerd basketball camp), Doud managed to attract the same number of kids as last year. The numbers have gone up each year -- 20 to 30 to 40 to 64 and to 63 this year.
The reasons for the increase in interest are numerous. Doud's reputation, the success of the Brainerd High School team and, perhaps most importantly, the involvement of the Mighty Gulls organization.
The majority of the 2000 Mighty Gulls edition helped with the camp, which ran from Monday through Thursday. The Gulls' players not only gave the kids instructions but also provided direct role models.
"We just got out there and taught them the fundamentals of catching and throwing," said Trevor Fredrickson, a catcher-outfielder from the University of Illinois. "We're trying to help them improve at an efficient rate. The key is just to get them out there and do it. And the camp is good in that way."
Doud said Gulls owner Perry Platisha showed interest in his camp and told Doud he wanted to help. The result was a handful of Gulls players at Monday, Tuesday and Thursday's camps and a visit to Mills Field on Wednesday. The whole day was spent on the field and in the batting cage at the home of the Mighty Gulls.
"The (Gulls) all are very personable and work well with the kids," Doud said. "The kids already know what Pat Doud says. The guys have a lot of credibility. Most of the older kids, especially, know a lot of the guys names, playing for the Gophers or other Division I teams. And it's great when the guys say the same thing as I do."
After teaching and fundamentals, the kids played a mock game each day. On Thursday contests such as a home run derby gave the kids a chance to collect various prizes.
With the youth instruction Doud and other area camps provide, the Brainerd Warriors can look to match their 2000 Class 3A state championship with many more.
"I do my little part," Doud said.
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