When a former Olympian is willing to travel from southern France to Yukon in the middle of December you know there has to be a really good reason.

For basketball player Kim Smith that reason is to direct the Future Stars Girls Basketball Camp, something that she is very excited to do, although she does admit being a bit nervous about the weather.

“I have been living in the south of France for the last month so one could say I have been getting quite soft and very spoiled – so although I am thrilled to be making my first trip north I am a bit nervous about the temperature,” says Smith, who is native to Mission, BC.

Kim Smith is a ten-time Canadian National Women’s Basketball team member, a former Women’s National Basketball Association player, and a 2012 Canadian Olympic Women’s Basketball team member.

Smith was invited to participate in the Future Stars Camps three weeks after she returned home from the 2012 Olympics in London, England.

“I was thrilled with the opportunity to work with the girls and pass on my experiences,” she says. “When I do retire I know that I would like to stay involved in the game working with younger players. This seemed like a great stepping-stone.”

Future Stars Camps, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, provide young high-performance athletes with the opportunity to learn from, and interact with, Canadian Olympians. Their previous camps have focussed on swimming, mountain biking, figure skating, mid-distance running, rowing and field hockey.

The girls’ basketball camp will take place in Whitehorse Dec. 21-23 at F.H. Collins Secondary School, in partnership with Basketball Yukon. It aims to work with girls ages 11 to 17 on skills such as shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding and defence.

“The camp is a lot of fun,” says Smith. “I teach a lot of the same skills and drills that I use every day in my own workouts; things that you can take away from the camp and use to keep on improving. We bring in a strength and conditioning coach who takes the girls through a weight program and gives them some ideas. Finally we have a few off-court sessions where we watch some film and I share my story of being a professional basketball player and getting to the Olympics.”

The Future Stars Camp isn’t the only program that Basketball Yukon has lined up for young players, however.

They will be running the winter session of their co-ed Minor Basketball program for youth in Grades 4-7; their Steve Nash Youth Basketball program for Grades 1-3; and their Under-13 Girl’s Development program.

Whatever program young basketball players choose to get involved in, Smith has some words of wisdom to pass on: “Have fun! If you dream big then you are going to have to work really hard, but if you love what you do then it won’t feel like work.”

To find out more about Basketball Yukon’s programming or to register go to http://www.basketballyukon.ca/

Amber Church is a painter, writer and sports enthusiast. You can reach her at sports@whatsupyukon.com.