Msgr. Farrell Campers Develop Bocce Skills, Friendships


Francesco Conia came to an easy conclusion and returned to Msgr. Farrell Bocce Summer Camp on Staten Island for a second year July 11-15.

“I had so much fun, I had to come back this year,” the 12-year-old incoming eighth-grader at St. Charles School on Staten Island told CNY. “My family is very Italian and I played once or twice. When I came here, it grew on me and I became more experienced.”

The bocce camp is one of many academic, athletic and religious camps being offered at Catholic schools and parishes in the archdiocese this summer. Msgr. Farrell offered summer camps for baseball, basketball, football, golf, lacrosse, wrestling, swimming, art, STEM, business and finance, and will offer theater camp starting Aug. 1.

“There is something for everyone at Monsignor Farrell,” said Msgr. Farrell president Lou Tobacco, who also directs the bocce camp. “Bocce is a very social and competitive sport that fosters teamwork and camaraderie and provides all students an opportunity to be a contributing part of a team.”

Msgr. Farrell has five bocce courts, which were constructed with a clay court surface in 2020. The school’s intramural program began in spring 2021 and grew to about 60 participants this year. The first bocce camp took place last summer and attracted 18 campers this time around. 

Bocce campers learned the rules and how to play the game before competing in a tournament on the camp’s final day, which included an awards ceremony and a sausage and peppers lunch. Each day, campers listened to musicians such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin as they played, and were treated to a snack such as Italian ice, rainbow cookies and cannoli.s.

“It makes the vibe so much better,” said Conia of the music and treats. “You would be tired from the heat or playing, and you have something like cookies and cannolis and be energized.”

Bocce has two two-player teams competing with large balls and a smaller ball called a pallino. The first player to roll the large ball will first roll the pallino, and the object is to roll the balls closest to the pallino. If a bocce rolls and finishes in a position touching the pallino, it is called a baci and earns the team two points. A team may earn up to five points with a baci if its remaining three balls finish closer to the pallino than any of the four bocces from the opposing team. If each team has its closest ball finish the same distance to the pallino, neither team will earn points. The winning team will be the first to score a predetermined number of points, typically 12.

“It’s great to see the bonds and friendships that have resulted,” Tobacco said. “There’s been a lot of laughs and jeers that I’m certain will provide them with great memories for years to come.”

Rob Russo, who will be a senior at Msgr. Farrell in September, started participating as a junior in the school’s intramural bocce ball program. 

“It’s been growing a lot and I am having fun with it,” he said. “It was a very unique opportunity for me. I wasn’t very familiar with the game and it was new and exciting to me. It’s been a great decision for me to get involved and make new friends.”

Russo added it’s been rewarding as a camp counselor to see the campers enjoy the game he has grown to love.

“It’s good to see young kids love a classic game like this and make new friends,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun to watch them learn the game and become passionate about it.

“They seem to be loving it. It’s all smiles all day.”