Getting closer to game time

We’re now in full swing getting ready for the start of camp on Saturday. Everyone has arrived and we’re all in motion. We are so excited for the campers to arrive!

On Wednesday morning we worked through more camp setup tasks, and had a bunch of free time to explore. Maggie, Zolo, Nathan, and I walked the grounds and saw all of Manof, specifically looking for anything that needed to be fixed or worked on by the grounds crew. We found very few items that needed to be worked on. Later in the day, we checked the rooms in two dorms to make sure everything was set for the kids to arrive. Almost all the rooms were perfectly setup. In the late afternoon Maggie and I explored the large farm area adjacent to the fields. The farm contains at least 300 goats, 100 sheep, many birds, a whole kennel of dogs, and a bunch of horses. It’s quite the operation. By the early evening, many more coaches and CITs had arrived. I made a run to the train station with Abe and picked up three CIT/campers from Atlanta. Back at the Manof Nancy (Programs Director) was in full swing getting the schedule set up for Thursday. We all gathered for a nice Falafel dinner, which was followed by a group viewing of the Spain vs. Portugal Eurocup2012 semi finals. While people yelled and jumped while viewing the game, I folded. It was quite fun. After making a bunch of headway in creating a 60-piece star, I eventually crashed for the night.

This morning I woke up early and finished up the star before everyone headed over to the dining hall for breakfast. Our first big dining hall meal was then followed by the start of training and orientation. David led us through a history of the program, our purposes, what we’d be working on for the next couple days, as well as led us through some roll-play situations that may come up during camp. We then had lunch and another round of free time. During the free time slot, Abe, Liz, and I met to discuss coach training. After some more training led by David, we then met regathered in the large lounge in the main admin building where we signed up for task groups. I spent my time with the media communications group, coming up with a plan for daily media offerings. (More on that to come!)

After task groups we gathered back up in the auditorium where Liz, Abe, and I started the coaches training. We talked about Spirit, how coaches operate within Spirit of the Game, and then had the coaching pairs group up to work through several roll-play situations. The four groups did an excellent job of acting out each situation and how’d they’d intervene as a coach. We had a great time. The training went straight into dinner which was followed by more team task time. By 9pm we were all out on the fields where David led us through some fantastically entertaining team bonding exercises. After a bunch of hilarious games, we transitioned into a kind of “reverse capture the flag” game with discs, and then scrimmaged for a while.

We’re all quite excited after a very full day of getting to know each other and learning about everything that’s coming up very quickly! Tomorrow is full of more training and setup… and then the fun really kicks off when the campers arrive on Saturday morning!

Haifa and Rest

On Monday morning I enjoyed being able to sleep in. Having my own room, especially one with fantastic air conditioning is wonderful. After hitting my snooze button a few too many times, I got cleaned up and then went downstairs to forage for breakfast.

I ended up hanging out in the main office administrative area with Zolo and Tomer for a few hours, learning about camp and having a great time bring around the energy that is the Zolo-Tomer connection. Maggie, Zolo, and Nathan took care of putting up banners, and then at around noon Tomer drove is to the train station where Maggie, Nathan, and I took the short ride south to the Haifa.

Out in the bright sun of Haifa I was reminded of being in Nice. We walked west, soaking in the rays and dodging some startlingly unlabeled construction areas. We passed the Maritime museum, and made out way up several flights of stairs to Elijah’s cave. There we found another beautiful vista and many people lounging in the shade eating lunch. Inside, the cave has very straight, milled-looking, sides, and a partition to separate men from women.

Next, we walked back down the flights of stairs, manuevered across some large roads, and found our way to the base of the small gondola that we took to the top of Mt. Carmel. The ride up was quick and along the way we were afforded another spectacular view of the coast line. At the top, we found a small pavilion that had a short audio recording built in that told us about the region. After listening for a while, we turned around the street and began waking further up the mountain towards the Bahai Gardens. Along the way we passed many gorgeous houses and absolutely perfect views. We imagined they cost about 10-20nis a piece :)

We finally made it to the gardens only to find that you can’t walk through each level without being on a tour, and the last tour had left an hour earlier. Regardless, we did get to walk around the upper level, which was quite beautiful. On the way out we got information on how to take the bus to the lower level of the mountain, and soon made our way to the German Colony area, way at the bottom of the gardens. On the street we found a very nice restaurant (Fattoush) and dove into a round of Sharwarma. We ate a leisurely pace and relaxed as the sun went lower on the skyline. Next, we made our way to the nearest train station, scooted back north to Acco, and then took a taxi back to Manof where we found that Bob and Linda had arrived.

A couple hours, everyone headed out to the old city of Acco for dinner, so naturally, Maggie, Nathan, and I had to join them. We ended up having dinner (the second one for some of us) at a spot overlooking the bay. It was a wonderful vista and the social time was grand.

Tuesday was a day of rest. We spent the day walking the grounds, and working on various camp prep tasks. Later in the day Maggie and I explored the very large farm area of Manof and saw many chickens, goats, sheep, other birds, dogs, and horses. They have quite the facility here! Later in the night, Zolo, Tomer, Bob, Linda, Maggie, Nathan, Karym, and I gathered for a pizza dinner, enjoying the last calm evening before the true storm.

At least 12 more staff members are making it into Acco today, with the largest wave coming in tomorrow. All the prep work is going well and everyone is excited for camp to begin!

Tel Aviv, Jericho, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, and Acco

It’s been a busy two days!

On Saturday I had a leisurely morning which included making my way to the coffee shop across the street to purchase an “American” sized cappuccino which I thoroughly enjoyed on my walk north to the Sportek. There I found the Israeli Juniors warming up and I had some time to catch up with them about their night.

Each of the three teams moved through more targeted skill drills and I helped out where I could. I gave some drill ideas to Dan, one of the girls’ coaches, and helped Yarden with the U-17 team, going over some zone defense tips with his group. I also got in to play in a some of the scrimmages and found that after the initial shock of playing in the heat, it wasn’t too bad. We ate lunch at the fields and the continued with more drills. Around 3pm the girls team started a scrimmage against some local club players and the game was quite fun to watch. The Junior girls played very well against a strong adult club mixed group. At around 4:30 I took off with Chelsea and Maggie and drove east to Ein Rafa to meet up with Karym.

At Karym’s, we switched to his car and ate some very yummy water melon on our ride to Jericho. On the way I snuck in a short nap and woke up refreshed for the clinic. In Jericho we found some very hot evening weather and 10 kids who were very ready to play. Chelsea led them through a great, very active clinic. She warmed them up and then had them work through a marking drill, cutting, and a go-to drill. I was very impressed by the skill level of the kids and how fast the new kids picked up the game. During some of the drills I talked with Karym and the local contact Farris about the town and region. I learned a great deal about their background and plans for the future. During the last drill the evening Call to Prayer echoed in the background. The clinic finished up with a lively cheer and lots of high fives.

Karym, Maggie, Julie, Chelsea, and I then drove the short distance to the round-about center of Jericho where Karym found us a place to eat dinner. Out on the second floor balcony of the place, we stuffed ourselves with Falafel and Shawarma, and finished up the meal with a round of Arabic coffee, a drink I am not quite accustomed to. Next, we drove west, crossed the checkpoint, and made it back to Karym’s place where Maggie and Chelsea took Chelsea’s car back to Tel Aviv.

Karym, Julie, and I then drove back east, first dropping Julie off at a friend’s house outside of Ein Rafa. Karym and I then passed back through the check point and a few blocks later found Hamouda, my host for the night! A short walk later into the Azzeh refugee camp, Hamouda and I arrived at his parents home where got comfortable in a living room area.

Over the next hour I met two of Hamouda’s brothers and one of his cousins, along with both his parents. I had a wonderful time talking to them all, relying heavily on Hamouda for translation. I learned that Azzeh is the smallest of the three refugee camps in Bethehem, with a population of about 2,000, and about the various complexities of living int he region. Hamouda’s mother showed me the weaving business she runs with other local women, and I learned about Hamouda’s father’s IT Directorship job. Eventually my energy waned and I slept. Well.

I woke up in the late morning on Sunday and after getting cleaned up a bit, Hamouda and I walked over to his family’s small Falafel business where we picked up breakfast. Next, we walked down the main street in Azzeh, and then a few more blocks to the Church of the Nativity. Hamouda gave me a tour side by side with the throngs of people visiting the area. Outside the Church I called home and talked to my mother a bit, hours before she had to preach. Fun stuff. Hamouda and I then walked up through more of the local Shuk area, then took a taxi to another area of Bethlehem where we saw another one of the checkpoints along with the entrance to the largest of the three refugee camps in Bethlehem, Dheisheh. Next, we took a bus back to Azzeh and walked a few blocks to the wall where I had the chance to see, up close, many of the murals. Right there in front of me was a large painting of “Love Wins”. Powerful stuff.

Back at Hamouda’s parent’s house, we both rested a bit before diving into a very large lunch made by his mother. The meal consisted of a pilaf rice cooked with chicken and rice pilaf, some vegitables, and a kind of fried meat dumplings. During lunch I talked more with Hamouda’s father Kamel and his mother Sauyed, as well as Hamouda’s sister. During lunch Kamel and Hamouda worked on paperwork for local children coming to Ultimate Peace Camp, as well as the logisitics of getting 8 Bethlehem kids along with Hamouda and myself to the evening clinic in Beit Sahour.

At around 5:15 we went out to the street and soon Kamel picked us up with his car. We then drove to the checkpoint where we met the small bus of UP Coaches coming in for the clinic. The bus then followed us to the Beit Sahour clinic location.

I started the clinic circling up the kids and some of the coaches to pass a disc back and forth while saying their own names. We mixed in a second disc and then transitioned to about 20 minutes of a turn the page cutting drill that the kids really got into. We added a swing pass after the catch, and then a double high five to the point where the kids were changing direction. After a water break, we transitioned into playing “It’s up!” which the kids absolutely loved. As the drill progressed, more and more kids joined in, and by the end of the clinic over 30 kids were running, catching, and in some cases diving!

We finished up in a circle where were did a “1-2-3 Beit Sahour Bethlehem!” cheer. Everyone left quite happy and very excited to play more Ultimate in the coming weeks! Al the coaches then piled back into the bus, passed the checkpoint, then unloaded at the Jerusalem bus station. About 20 minutes later we were on the 480 bus heading west back to Tel Aviv. At the Tel Aviv station, a group of coaches split off to go to Roy’s for the night, while Julie, Nathan, Maggie, and I walked back to Chelsea’s to pick up our stuff. After a short rest at Chelsea’s, which included getting a round of fantastic Calzones from a nearby shop, we got a taxi and drove back to the bus station, which is also a train station. There we got our tickets to Acco and boarded our train.

About an hour and 45 minutes later we were in Acco, where we were picked up by Zolo and Tomer, two of the local Ultimate Peace rock star administrators. A five minute drive later we made it to Manof, the site for the whole camp. After a bit of socializing in the main office, we all went to bed, excited for the days to come!

It’a now Monday morning and the plan for the day is to complete a few tasks around camp and then go swimming. Nathan, Maggie, and I are hoping to make it down to Haifa either today or tomorrow. The second group of coaches gets in tonight, with the bulk coming in tomorrow and Wednesday. It’s about to get quite busy here. In other news, I have gained the added responsibility of being on a team of 3 people who will work to run the pre-camp training for all the coaches. I can’t wait!

Israeli National Teams Practice – Day 1

I just had a fantastic full day surrounded by Israeli youth Ultimate!

My day began with me hitting the snooze button only 3 or 4 times, so I managed to get up early enough to do a bit of exploring of the shops around the apartment before the walk north to the Sportek fields. With a cappuccino in hand, and a bottle of seltzer packed away for later, I was set. I made it to the field by about 10:15 and started getting to know the Israeli National Juniors teams. For the first hour the teams worked through light throwing and paperwork tasks. (There are 17 players on the U-20 girls team, 17 on the U-17 open team, and 15 on the U-20 open team.) After dynamic warm ups the kids worked through some throwing drills. Next, the three teams worked on different skills. The girls worked on zone O and D, and the open teams worked on more throwing drills.

I had a great time walking around and helping out where I could. I talked to the girls about the right way to turn on cuts, and helped some of the U-17 boys with the form on their hammer throws. Some English was spoken during practice, but for the majority of the time everyone spoke Hebrew. I love seeing Ultimate played in non-English languages! At around 2pm Chelsea, Maggie, and I walked a bit south for lunch and had a round of wonderful hummus and pita. Before walking back I became side tracked with (another) cheese shop and bough a nice slice of a blue chevre.

Back at the fields the three teams were again split up and working on various drills. The U-20 open team did a half field horizontal stack drill, the girls worked on more defensive sets, and the U-17 team scrimmaged. Over the next several hours practice continued as the rest of the park filled up with many soccer games. Space became competitive and there were a few heated discussions about field space. (Unlimited fields in the ideal Ultimate world!) Towards the end of the session, the U-20 and U-17 teams scrimmaged on a large space between two rugby goal posts. The U-20 kids dominated, but the U-17 team was able to score a few times and had some really smooth, agressive motion with the disc.

At around 7pm all the kids were grouped up and we all walked west to the coast, and then south for a bit to an open, lit beach. While the kids played in the sand, one of the coaches went out to get lots of food. Maggie and I stayed around for a bit talking to Abe, and then began our walk home.

In 2006 I saw the first Israeli National Juniors team play at Worlds at Ft. Devens, in MA. The team was small and pretty good for a first year WJUC team. Now, six years later, Israel is sending three strong teams! It will be the first time at the event for the Israeli girls team, who came in 5th at the European Youth Champ last year. You can learn more about the World Junior Ultimate Championships right here.

In a couple hours I’m going to walk back to the Sportek fields to help out with the second day of practice. Then, later this afternoon we’re going to drive to Jerusalem to connect with Karym who is going to drive us to Jericho for a clinic.

Tel Aviv Coaching Clinic

This morning I awoke to more Tel Aviv city sounds, and a soft breeze coming through the large window of the apartment’s living room area where I am sleeping. It’s a great way to wake up. After my regular storm of email correspondance, I pulled more materials together for the coaching clinic. With all of the necessary PDFs loaded on a thumb drive, I found the nearby copy center and setup my copy job. By noon it was done and I was heading north to the Sportek fields.

Maggie, Nathan, and I found a shady spot near the central field area, and then moved over to the east end of the park after finding a better area with more shade and benches. By 1:45, 7 coaches had gathered so I got started. Over the course of the next 5 hours I ran through a general coaching clinic, covering topics ranging from “The Ideal Ultimate World” and Spirit of the Game, to drill suggestions, how to run an effective practice, and how to promote the sport. I had a wonderful time learning about Ultimate in Israel and cities around the US from the other coaches. We had some spirited discussions, and could have certainly gone on for much longer.

By about 6:30pm we packed up and walked a few blocks west to an American style pub where we had a great dinner and talked more about, what else, Ultimate. I got some more details about tomorrow’s Israeli Junior National Team training camp, which will actually run through Friday and all day Saturday as well. Dan one of the coaches, said I was more than welcome to attend it all, so I’m going to! I can’t wait.

So… I’m going to work with the Israeli Jrs for the next two days and then the plan is to take the train to Haifa on Sunday evening after a second clinic in Beit Sahour. After touring Haifa for a day or two, we’ll head up to Acco for the start of Camp UP!

Time is flying by!


I managed to bend to the will of my alarm clock this morning and get up around 7:30. After my daily morning flurry of email — something that is pretty fun with a 7 hour time difference — I packed up and met Maggie and Nathan down on the street. A short walk later, we were on the 480 bus bound for Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem we walked a few stops down the light rail line to a small market where we browsed the wares and picked up a round of iced coffee. After dealing very well with the light rail ticket machine, we hopped on and a few minutes later got off near the Damascus Gate to the Old City. Inside we found a gloriously packed warren of streets, side streets, and alleys. What a wonderful place! We walked downhill, towards the center, and along the way stopped at the Austrian Hospice on the word of one of Maggie’s friends who said there was a great view from the top. Without her friend’s note we would have never stopped, and we are so glad we did! The view from the top was amazing! After we took a slew of pictures and video clips, we kept on our downhill walk.

Several blocks of narrow, shaded, alleyways later we went through security and found ourselves facing the Western Wall. While Maggie and Nathan meandered around the main square, I went up to the fall and folded 4 pink cranes and added them to the wall. We then tried to find the main entrance to the Dome on the Rock, trying a spot that we were turned away from earlier, but then with the help of a random person on the street found out that the main entrance was in the square but only open from 1:30 to 2:30. So, we grabbed soem more water and headed back to the square, where we eventually found the line. There we realized that by what it says in the Torah, no Jews are allowed inside. We made our way through another set of security guards and then after a bit of knee covering, we were inside. Wow. What an experience being at the epicenter of so many faiths. We walked around the square, took pictures, and soaked in the atmosphere of the place. After a short rest in the shade on the north side of the dome, we found the exit and walked west towards the Chuch of the Holy Sepulchre.

We walked through several more layers of shaded alley streets, and eventually found the main entrance to the Church with the help of a very nice shop owner. Inside we found a small crowd of tourists, and another site with a powerful atmosphere. We rested in the Crusader chapel, near the tomb of Jesus, taking note of the wonderful beams of light shadowing the floor. We also walked to the lower levels to the site where Helena allegedly found the True Cross. After back tracking a bit, and stopped again so I could buy some nice souvenirs, we found a small cafe near the Damascus gate where we enjoyed a round of Turkish coffee. Soon after we caught the light rail back to the bus station where we had a slightly longer (due to traffic) ride back to Tel Aviv.

Back in the city we had a very refreshing walk to Chelsea’s apartment, stopping on the way to pick up some very tasty feta and spinach calzones. I’m now back in the apartment finishing up my prep work for tomorrow’s coaching clinic.

Exciting stuff!

Fundraising Update and Tel Aviv Part 2

My first fundraising deadline (6/21) is coming up very soon. While I will continue my fundraising efforts until mid-August, I am hoping to have most of my donations collected by this first deadline.

Thank you again for all of your wonderful support!

Yesterday we spent another glorious day exploring Tel Aviv.

I managed to seep in until 9:30am, which felt great, but was more unconsciousness than I had planned. After getting a bit of emailing done, I made the walk out to the water and then south to Maggie and Nathan’s hostel. They both met me in the lobby and we then walked south east to the Shuk, a large, shaded market containing a massive amount of… everything. We saw lots of clothing, trinkets, and tons of great food. It’s a shaded street market, so it was rather crowded, but not overly so. Towards the south end of the first street we walked down I found a wonderful cheese shop, and had to by come Cambozola blue cheese. Yum! A few yards down the street, we stopped and purchased a round of specialty chocolate. At the end of the street we turned around, and walked back up, this time, paying attention to the other side of the street.

Half way up I bough a 5nis ($1) baguette, which we followed up with a 1kg purchase of Baklava! Back in the main square we turned down the artists street, browsed some fantastic art, then found a street cafe/restaurant to sit at. Maggie had some great Falafel and Nathan a sandwich while I down half a baguette and most of my Cambozola. While eating we had a nice chat with a family from MN. Next, we walked back to the hostel, locked up our stuff, and went to the beach for some time soaking in the very refreshing water!

After swimming, we got cleaned up and relaxed for a while in a nearby airconditioned lobby. While there we ran into another Ultimate Peace Coach, Gabe. While relaxing and sending out a small flurry of texts, we arranged to meet up with Chelsea for dinner. By about 8pm we were all gathered up in northern Tel Aviv where we had a great meal of pizza and focaccia, topped off by some great ice cream.

Overall it was a fantastic day of soaking in the city and lots of wonderful food!

Today the plan is to see as much of Jerusalem as possible. Maggie and Nathan are meeting me here at Chelsea’s in the next hour to start our day. While out in Jerusalem I’m hoping to make the trip to Bethelehem to meet up with Hamouda. Also, I need to spend some time this evening polishing up my coaching clinic notes, which I will need tomorrow.

Tel Aviv

My morning began to the active city sounds of Tel Aviv. Given that I can sleep through any noise (for the most part), I had a very smooth sleep… that was also propelled by being spectacularly tired. After catching up on a few emails and getting cleaned up, I headed out to walk down to the hostel where Maggie and Nathan are now staying.

My walk took me to the coast where I got my first view of the water. Gorgeous blue with glowing sand. Wonderful. The morning was heating up quickly, but not to any massive extremes. I found Maggie and Nathan and we immediately walked out to the beach. The water was absolutely perfect and terrifically refreshing! Next, we packed up and headed south along the coast. About 15 blocks later we turned east into Tel Aviv and explored Shabazi and Rothchild streets. We grabbed lunch at an Israeli-style diner, and then back tracked to the coast. In Jaffa we were treated to an elevated view of Tel Aviv, a walk through some gardens, a tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and a few artisan galleries. Along the way we picked up a round of gelato and also made our way through a flea market.

We then walked back to the hostel where Nathan rested for a bit while Maggie and I took another trip to the beach. Maggie and I then met back up with Nathan for a cafe trip, which we followed by dinner at The Thai House. After an excellent meal, with conversation spanning some great Ultimate policy topics (Refs? AUDL? The future of youth Ultimate?), we parted ways with plans to meet up tomorrow to explore some local markets and hopefully play some pickup Ultimate in the evening. There’s also a chance I might make it out to Bethlehem to meet up with Hamouda.

Off to sleep I go.