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Bouncing around town

Camp allows kids to play Bubble Balls

Allie Byron, 7, of Clifton Park plays with Bubble Balls Saturday, Aug. 9, at Academy of Holy Names in Albany, where JMU 4 Kids held its 10-year anniversary picnic.

Allie Byron, 7, of Clifton Park plays with Bubble Balls Saturday, Aug. 9, at Academy of Holy Names in Albany, where JMU 4 Kids held its 10-year anniversary picnic. Photo by Billy DeLap.

— A summer camp that operates at different locations in the Capital District offers kids fun ways to keep active and enjoy their summer by bringing a unique item to the area.

In its tenth year of operation, JMU 4 Kids holds summer camps at four different locations and offers kids the opportunity to play in Bubble Balls, a worldwide sensation that puts players in a giant inflatable ball.

What started 10 years ago by Joe Urschel at one location with 30 kids has morphed into a program at four locations with nearly 600 kids participating.

“We specialize in summer camps, school vacation camps and special events for laser tag or bubble soccer. The company name came about because there’s four members of my family, and we all have the same initials: JMU,” said Urschel.

A counselor at one of the camps saw a clip on YouTube of the Bubble Balls and shared it with Urschel.

“During April, one of my workers saw a YouTube video and emailed it to my daughter saying, ‘Your dad always wants to be the first one to get all this crazy stuff.’ And I looked at it and said, ‘My God, that looks like a lot of fun,’ you know?” said Urschel.

JMU 4 Kids has the only Bubble Balls in the area, having them shipped on a cargo ship from the manufacturer in China.

“It’s a big thing over in Europe and Australia in particular. Frankly, I bet you could go 100 miles in any direction and not have anybody else with these. In order to get them, the company in Australia, Wonderballz, allowed me buy directly from their factory in China,” said Urschel.

The balls, which come in different sizes, are inflatable and have shoulder straps and two openings. You get in the ball, and your feet stick out the bottom so you can run around and kick a soccer ball.

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