What Really Goes on at "Camp Cal"
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What Really Goes on at "Camp Cal"

Josh Cormanalmost 5 years


Article written by:Josh CormanJosh Corman




As all good UK fans know, every year during the University of Kentucky’s winter break, the men’s basketball team participates in “Camp Cal.” For the camp’s entire duration, John Calipari takes advantage of a lack of NCAA practice restrictions to mold his team into the focused collective he knows he’ll need come March. But that’s not all he does.

Until now, the true ins-and-outs of Camp Cal have been something of a mystery, but KSR has obtained an email sent by the coaching staff to players that reveals exactly what the team goes through over the course of the average day at Camp Cal. After reading it, you’ll no doubt have an even greater appreciation for what the Cats and this staff put themselves through in the interest of team unity and success.


“Camp Cal” begins this week. Please take note of the schedule below. Feel free to come to us with any questions you may have.

Notice: ALL activities are mandatory. The coaching staff expects each player to be ON TIME to each session. Also, remember that you are to remain within sight of your camp buddy AT ALL TIMES. Campers in violation of the buddy policy will be forced to call home and explain why they can’t follow the rules.


BREAKFAST (6:00 AM – 6:30 AM)


Egg-white omelettes

Whole wheat toast

Contractually obligated Purnell’s Old Folks’ Country Sausage

Juice of choice

Dunkin’ Donuts (coaching staff only)


Campers will spend significant time working with the staff to improve their individual skill sets. Determinations for individual drills will be determined by an extensive evaluation of each camper’s game film. Examples of drills include sealing defenders on post passes (for campers 6’7” or taller), pick-and-roll decision making (all campers), and making as many threes as possible while the staff pipes in screams of “SHOOOOOOT!” at 110 db (human victory cigars).


Again, nutrition is vital, and after individual workouts, campers will refuel. Choices include Gatorade energy chews, trail mix, Goldfish crackers, and two flavors of Capri-Sun.


Basketball isn’t just a physical test; it’s also a mental test. It’s critical that our campers are able to explore their creative instincts. Campers will be free to paint, draw, or sculpt a project that reveals the inner workings of their young minds (as long as none of those designs ends up as a tattoo on Brad Calipari). BONUS – students will be treated to an engaging tutorial from former camper and winner of three consecutive Camp Cal Best Art and/or Craft Award, Willie Cauley-Stein. Campers can also see the work of former Wildcats, including the 200 versions of James Young’s personal logo that he made when he probably should have been practicing passing (like, even the really simple passes that you’d think a D-I basketball player couldn’t possibly screw up).


As with Individual Drills, Team Drills will be determined by the evaluation of game tape. They may include a focus on throwing lob passes, putting teammates in the best position to make an open shot, and an old gem we like to call “for the love of everything good and holy, please, would somebody besides Bam just grab a &@%$ing rebound.”



Grilled Chicken Breast (Sacha, please stop giggling every time you see the word “breast” written on the board in the dining hall)

Vegetable Medley

Pasta Options, incl. Spaghetti and Anfernee “Penne” Hardaway

Sweet Potato Fries


Full-court, five-on-five scrimmage, played with a running clock except during Cal’s teaching moments*. If Cal blows the whistle, everybody stops and listens carefully until he blows the whistle again, then the game will continue.

*Note: the staff IS aware that Cal’s “teaching moments” can go on for, um, extended amounts of time. Therefore, Cal’s speech will ALSO occur with a running clock. If the buzzer sounds before Cal is finished talking, a member of the staff will politely take him by the elbow and lead him off the court, like he’s an old man who came into the kitchen to get something, but can’t remember what.


Before dinner, campers should take some time to relax and recover. Feel free to play video games and spend time on your phones. The staff definitely won’t be keeping a close eye on the entire team to see who fritters away their valuable practice time trying to get the hair on their 2K17 created player just right. In no way will those campers who spend their afternoons on Snapchat instead of getting up extra shots (coughIsaiahcough) and hitting the weight room (Oh, hi Wenyen) be targeted for a constant stream of brutal criticism and stair-running at practice the next day. So get out there and have some fun, campers!



Camper’s choice of steak or chicken

Steamed broccoli (Kentucky Proud)

Roasted potatoes

Ice cream (provided by Graeter’s, unless one of the campers has a special talent they’re neglecting to tell us about)


Nothing shows our campers’ commitment like lifting weights at the end of a long, grueling day of intense workouts and camp-wide sing-a-longs (thanks to Isaac for volunteering to be our accompanist again this year, and yes, Bam, we got your note – you can sing one Katy Perry song, but that’s it, ok). Campers will chart their reps and weights so that they can see proof of their improvement. The camper with the greatest improvement at the end of the week will get a special merit badge (checkerboard pattern, of course)!

Reminder: Please remember to remove all friendship bracelets before lifting weights. Safety first!


At Camp Cal, we want our campers to have fun. In fact, we feel like they should be having more fun than any campers in the whole country. But it’s hard to have fun without observing proper sleep habits. Yes, #TeamNoSleep was a funny hashtag, but sleep loss is no laughing matter. After 11:00 PM, the answer to the question, “Who up?” should be “Nobody,” unless it’s super early and you’re doing one of those MKG things (please, please do one of those MKG things).

WILDERNESS TREK (Team-building exercise; one night only)

To build team unity, campers will spend one night of Camp Cal roughing it in the Arboretum across from Commonwealth Stadium. Activities may include:

  • Archery lessons (with special video tutorial from Jamal Murray)
  • Building a fire from scratch (Tai, please remember that you are NOT permitted to cut down the trees in the Arboretum)
  • Trust falls (don’t worry, we’ve implemented new safety precautions in light of the incident with Tyler and Isaac last year)
  • King of the Hill (A reminder from Coach Payne: if you come at the king, you best not miss)

Thanks, campers! We can’t wait to get started.


The Coaching Staff

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