Summer Camp Day 1

UP Summer Camp 2012 is off to a roaring start. Tomer exclaimed half way through the day that the overall atmosphere felt like the third day of camp instead of just the first. Teams have been super active on all fronts. Cheers have rocked the dining hall and the fields. Kids are running hard. Laughing loud and often. All is well at the Manof!

The day began with our second 7:30am breakfast, a time slot that most of us are getting (kinda) used to. By 8am we were all back in the auditorium to go over the plan for the day and to work through a few more role-play situations starring David. It was a good time. David is quite the actor! By around 9:30 we spread out around campus to get ready for the camper invasion. Tables were setup for registration, welcome posters were brought to the entrance gate, and everyone got pumped up. The first kids arrived at around 11am and kept on coming in until around 12:45 when the last bus of kids from the West Bank arrived.

Upon arrival the kids were greeted by a fleet of cheering staff who formed a double line that all the kids had to pass through. Smiles were everywhere. Over in the center of Manof the kids registered and then moved their stuff into their rooms. Music spread out through the Manof and games were created all over campus, as well as pockets of dancing. It was particularly fun for me to greet kids who I knew from last session and from the Israeli National training camp that hadn’t come last week.

At around 12:40 all of the kids were moved into the auditorium to watch some Ultimate videos while waiting for the last bus to arrive. Shortly before 1pm the West Bank bus arrived! It was thrilling to see all the kids who were at last week’s clinics in Bet Sahur and Jericho. It was really awesome when a group of the Bethlehem kids came right up to me and exclaimed “Josh Seamon!”. They knew my full name. So cool, or as I’ve learned, “Sababa!”.

Over in the auditorium all the kicked packed in, David gave a general kick-off welcome, and then the teams were read off and moved into the dining hall one by one. I had fun doing by best to pronounce all of my girls’ names, and managed to do so with only a few laughable moments. In the dining hall we all sat as a team and started getting to know each other over our meal.

After lunch all of the teams spread out through the Manof for team bonding time. My group, team white, met up at our soon to be normal check in place around one of the trees in the central area of the Manof. We played many name games and we eventually got much better at remembering a slew of new names. We also played several fun goofy games, including a round of the most important camp games such as WA! and Ninja!

By a little after 4:30 we were out on the field moving through warmups led by Chelsea. Next, I moved the team through a series of catching drills including simple catch with a coach, the button-hook drill, It’s up!, and layouts from a knee sitting position. The girls were focused, determined, smiling, and they ran hard. I was really impressed with their skill and the joy they find in the game. I can’t wait to see them tomorrow!

At 5:30 we went back to the center of Manof to rest and play more social games. We played Mingle, another round of WA!, and some new clapping games. By 6:30 we were even closer and having tons of fun. The girls then had a little free time before meeting up for dinner at 7. By 20 minutes into dinner, the whole dining room was a riot of spirite cheering. It was quite impressive how quickly all the teams had come together!

After dinner the staff had a short meeting while the kids watched some high leve Ultimate in the auditorium. Everyone then spread out around campus for the team scavenger/challenge hunt. The kids had an hour to work through as many of the 15 challenge stations as they could as a team. The night was quickly filled with laughter and an enormous amount of energy. By a little after 9pm all the kids were out on the fields playing a massive number of games. With a DJ fueling the background, the kids had a blast creating a controlled chaotic field of fun.

At 10pm the kids were ushered back to their dorms for the night. With a large amount of staff circulating through the dorms, the kids were directed to calm down and start getting to sleep as soon as possible. Of course, when lights out was called at 11:00pm it was a little bit of a battle to get everyone settled. Here’s to hoping the kids get lots of sleep tonight!

Day 2 here we come!

Academy Press Release

St. Johnsbury Academy put out a press release right before I left on my trip:

Teacher Heads to Israel for an Ultimate Experience:

Academy math faculty member and coach of the school’s State Champion Ultimate Frisbee boys  team Josh Seamon is heading to Israel this summer to participate with a program called Ultimate Peace, an organization that uses Ultimate Frisbee as a tool to unite Israeli and Palestinian youth during an annual summer camp. Seamon will travel to the camp later this month. <read more>

Staff Training

The second day of staff training is coming to a close tonight. The campus has been alive with the sounds of task team prep tasks and coaches training sessions. It’s been quite active here at the Manof. We are well prepared and very excited for the arrived of 130 campers tomorrow!

Yesterday morning started with another great breakfast, followed by our first orientation session in the auditorium. David kicked things off with a discussion of the history of UP, and then we worked through some role-play situations that could happen between coaches. Also, every came on stage one by one to say their name, where they’re from, and do one motion. It was quite impressive to see our large staff group together in one place. The final count is 51 coaches and 32 CITs. It’s a phenomenal group.

Back in the Moadon common room area, everyone signed up for a task team or two and then met up in their groups to work on everything from welcoming committee and registration to media and evening activity planning. I started off at media and pitched in my ideas, before heading out, leaving the group under Rachael’s direction.

After lunch and a camp trip to the pool, David ran another round of staff orientation, followed by coaching training. We kicked off the training with a discussion of Spirit of the Game and the coache’s role with regards to spirit. Abe then led the group through spirit-oriented role-play work. The skits were quite good and showed a great deal of thought. After dinner and a large pickup game outside, people eventually made it to sleep.

This morning, all of the coaches and CITS grouped up on the field after breakfast for their second round of training. I then led them through teaching the 8 basic Ultimate skills of catching, backhand, forehand, marking, pivoting/faking, downfield D, cutting, and the force. Each small group came up with how to teach the skill and then presented to the whole group, with one other group specifically acting as a “critic” group. Each presentation was translated into Arabic and Hebrew, and done in as “live” a way as possible. The presentations were great and the feedback was fantastic.

At around 10:30 we transitioned back to the auditorium for more staff orientation led by David. By 12:30 we made it to lunch and then a large group went to the poo. Back on campus after free time, the coaching teams met up for the first time to discuss plans for the days to come. I am super excited to work with my team of Chelsea (Local Mentor Coach), Julie (UP Coach), Wanda (UP Coach), Ava (CIT), Raz (CIT), and Areen (CIT). During our meeting we distributed team responsibilities such as cheer master, warm up queen, and equipment checker. We talked about our plans for tomorrow and how excited we are for the arrival of all the campers.

By 5pm we were all back on the field for the last round of coaches training. I moved the group through the last two skill presentations and then we had an open discussion about what people are most concerned about for the upcoming days of camp. We also announced a few people’s “Ultimate Majors”, so that people know who they can go to to get help with specific skills. After handing out some more materials covering skill cues and bonding activity ideas, the session came to a close.

Dinner was followed by a quick meeting in the auditorium, after which we all went to the fields for some social games led by David and Jez. We lined up by age and height, as well as in alphabetical order with no talking. We moved through WA (I’m still terrible) and played starfish tag (awesome!). The circle group sit went way better than I expected and the massive lasso-group-hug was pretty cool.

Back in the Moadon common room area David ran a meeting to go over specific plans for tomorrow. All is now set for an amazing first day of camp. Everyone is now enjoying a last few hours of truly free time before the massive arrival of 130 campers tomorrow starting at around 11am.

Summer camp here we come!

Two UP blog posts

Two new blog posts are online on the official UP blog. They are well worth the read!

Community Happens:

It’s really hard to sum up Ultimate Peace camp. A lot of what happens here is emotional and difficult to articulate anyway, but some of what happens here just sneaks up on you, leaving you totally speechless. I’ll try. <read more>

The next generation steps up:

When the campers started arriving this morning, there was that momentary panic you feel when house guests show up before you’ve even started prepping for the party. Areen Shihade and Yasmeen Maresat of Tamra rolled up with their rolling suitcases. How had they all gotten here, already? We had two days before the kids arrived. Right? <read more>

                                                       UP Training Camp 2012!