A storm of hugs

With a bright sun shining overhead, Training Camp 2013 finished up this afternoon at around 2pm with team meetings. Each team said their goodbyes, and then the kids were off. It’s truly rather jarring that the session is already. On one level, everyone is completely exhausted, but in such a fantastic way that you kind of expect tomorrow to start with breakfast with the kids, followed by more games. While that’s not going to happen tomorrow — we have a staff social day — it’s only a few more days until the summer camp masses arrive at Manof. Training Camp has prepared us well. We’re ready for the 145+ kids. Bring ’em on. We can’t wait.

Flickr Photos Album – 6/29/13
YouTube Video – 6/29/13

Morning coffee was followed by our last dining hall breakfast, part of which was used by the players to fill out the end of camp survey. Afterwards we all filled into the auditorium for a few announcements and some wake-up stretching led by Nancy and David. The whole camp then moved out onto the Manof field for the final camp games! First though, we had to take the all-camp photo.

Training Camp 2013!

While the combined girls teams warmed up for their game, the staff played a short 15-minute exhibition game. I got in for a few points and managed not to totally embarrass myself. I didn’t drop an discs, caught several passes, and managed to throw an assist. I was a bit winded though, a true and totally unsurprising sign of not being in shape. At all. Something to work on. After we cleared the field, the girls started their game with Pink/Charcoal playing Royal/Maroon. The game was competitive, spirited, and full of great plays. It’s truly remarkable how far the girls have come in such a short time. Zone was thrown, deep throws were completed, and patient handlers worked around and through cups. Afterwards the girls circled up, picked a spirit award winner for each team, and then I took some group photos of all the girls. We ended up getting a few new fun shots into the mix.

Training Camp 2013 huddle

The boys finals teams, Green and Orange, then took the field after finishing their warmups during the end of the girls game. The boys played extremely well, with lots of deep shots patient offense, and a high number of very strong d-blocks. In the end, Green took home the win in convincing fashion. Go Ferocious Pickles!

A Ferocious Pickle brings down a catch in traffic

The kids then had an hour to clean up and pack. They ended up doing a pretty good job and by noon they had all brought their luggage to the area outside the dining hall. Lunch was it’s regular loud and spirited self with everyone having a great time. We then moved into the auditorium for the closing ceremonies, which were kicked off by the first showing of the camp slide show and video highlight real. Both pieces were well received with lots of cheering a laughter. A big thanks to video master David Z for spending so much time last night putting together the video highlights!

David then started the end of camp ceremony. He talked about camp, named the starting 7 — the camp’s most spirited players as chosen by the coaches — and said thanks to everyone who made the camp possible. David spoke very well about each person who made UP possible, and then Tomer said some very nice words about Linda, David, and Tomer.

Tomer and David

It was particularly emotional when the whole staff got to get up on stage together. It’s such a wonderful team.

Training Camp staff 2013

Nancy and David closed out the ceremony and then all the teams moved out into the quad for their last team meetings. Team Pink started off by saying what they most enjoyed about camp. The girls spoke very well about their experiences. We also decided that Idan should be the one to take the Pink Ladies flag since he’d be visiting many UP communities in the coming year and he could take the flag wherever he went. We also tied more string bracelets on each other, a wonderful tradition I got from my travels to Laos. Each girl would speak about what they wished for the person whose wrist they were putting the string on, as they tied the string on. It was so heart-warming to see.

Our own Baci celebration

During out meeting I also gave each girl a purple wrist band — a special item from my time at St. Johnsbury Academy. I also awarded Ruba a Black Ice 2013 hat for being named the team’s most improved player. The girls were also given their player evaluations, which, of course, they immediately wanted to read. The last thing we did was get a group picture taken before the girls spread out into the quad to say goodbye to everyone else at camp.

Team Pink Ladies! :)

For the next 30 minutes I circulated around the quad saying goodbye to players and taking photos. Fortunately, many Training Camp kids will be returning next week for Summer Camp, so many of the goodbyes were muted. All over the place kids were finding different ways to say goodbye. The kids were so openly genuine with their feelings for each other. It was truly special to see.

Saying goodbye

By just before 3pm, we wrapped up our hugs and goodbyes and with all the students headed home, the staff gathered up in the dining hall for a feedback session lef by Nancy and David. We talked about lots of aspects of the camp while things were fresh in our minds. We capped off the meeting with many people sharing what they most appreciated about Ultimate Peace. It was quite a series of speeches. By 4:15 we wrapped up and headed back to the Mohadoun to get changed for our time at the beach.

Post-camp staff feedback session

We all then got changed and gathered up at 5pm at the main gates to the Mohodoun where we caught a small fleet of cabs that took us the short distance to the nearby beach. There we enjoyed socializing, swimming in the warm water, and just generally relaxing on the beach. Kelsie broke out her amazing, super fun to use large kite, and several people (including me) got to try flying it over the beach. It was way too much fun. Other people played fun disc games, and some free styled. It was the perfect way to cap off the last day of Training Camp 2013.

We’re all now back at the Mohodoun. Several coaches have already left for home and a bunch more leave tomorrow evening after our staff trip to raft on the Jordan river. Everyone is excited to rest, but they are way more excited for the impending invasion of 145+ campers for Summer Camp.

All is very well in the land of Camp Ultimate Peace.

The pinnacle of the three C’s

As David always says, working at Camp UP is a marathon sprint. Days like this one make that statement a reality. Days like this one make sprinting the marathon oh so worth it. We have also been building momentum all week, and things have really hit a high today. As Nancy just said, tonight we hit a pinnacle with the three C’s — Collaboration, Communication, and Compassion. Oh, and camp sure has talent :)

Flickr Photos Album – 6/28/13
YouTube Video – 6/28/13

As always, David had coffee ready for the early risers who gathered in the Mohadoun to help wake up kids. He’s actually improved his coffee-making skills and had about 12 cups ready before I managed to take the first cup away. Nice.

UP fuel prepped by David

After another spirited breakfast and auditorium announcements meeting, I transitioned with my Pink Ladies out into the Manof field. We secured our far left tent, cleated up, warmed up, ran a Go To drill and then started our game against the Maroon Mamas. We went back and forth for a few points before going up 5-3 on the strength of our newly built zone defense skills. Maroon worked patiently through the zone, but we started connecting on more passes, pulling down the last goal to win 6-3. On the other field Royal closed out their game against Charcoal.

Pink cup!

Instead of moving to semis, or finals, the head coaches decided to pair up teams and play a game. The new teams, “Lady Shaka” and “Pink Storm” faced off in a strong game filled with lots and lots of skill, spirit, and competition. Zone was throw, deep shots were completed, and marks were broken. Even though the teams had come together from different coaching paths, they ended up complimenting each other quite well. Pink’s fast break cuts worked well with Royal’s strong handler set. Maroon’s strong catching ability worked very well with Charcoal’s strong arms. The girls were also much more energetic on the field as they were now able to play 7’s with subs.

Time to bring that disc down!

After the games finished, the kids plowed through lunch, auditorium announcements, and then moved off to afternoon activities. Most kids stayed on campus, but a fair number went to the pool. By 4:30 all the teams were gathering up in the quad and by 4:40 teams Pink and Royal were grouped up in the middle third of the Manof field for their combined practice. After warmups and Go-To, the girls were run through zone practice where they all played D against the coaches, and then the coaches played D against them. The whole process worked well and the girls seemed to really absorb and quickly apply everything they were taught.

Two hand catching in action!

In the 30 minutes between practice and dinner, I prepped the rest of my talent show act and got to dinner a bit early to have some time setting up in the auditorium. Everything set up as planned and then I enjoyed my first Shabbat dinner since last summer. Dinner ended around 7:40 and the kids were moved out into the quad for some chill time while a few talent show acts finished prepping. At 8 the show began, and what a show it was!

Amir and his bride!

There was singing, dancing, acting, and… everything in between and outside of those categories. The evening was grand.

Afterwards the staff met up for their nightly meeting, followed by a couple hours spent writing player evaluation. The coaching staff was also treated to a late-night pizza dinner, which made us all quite happy.

Tomorrow we wrap up with the tournament finals, coaches showcase game, and closing ceremonies. It’s truly stunning how fast time has traveled this week, and how much has happened.

A tournament, a pool, and a dear friend

It’s now around 11:20pm and the Mohadoun is alive with the sounds of socializing staff members. We all just returned from an amazing time at the first ever UP pool party. We played hard this morning in the first round of the tournament, then ate, dove, and danced at the pool — a perfect way to cap off a grand day. To top it all off we had a surprise from a friend we all hoped we’d get to see!

Flickr Photos Album – 6/27/13
YouTube Video – 6/27/13

As usual, my morning began with a health dose of coffee made by Director Barkan. Fully fueled for the morning, I headed off to the dining hall with the day’s issue of “Get UP!” in hand, as I had managed to print them out the night before. Team pink had a good time socializing at breakfast. We talked about the previous day and a bit about the schedule for the day.

Milk chocolate in a bag is so good!

Our on the field, after a short meeting in the auditorium, we warmed up and then worked through some more team-bonding activities involving bracelets. We then moved through a short Go-To drill and then our first tournament game began with our game against Royal Blue. We went up 2-0 off of some quick possessions, but then gave up 3 well-earned goals to go down 2-3. We then scored again to get us to half. We continued to have good disc movement in the second half, but couldn’t quite score and ended up losing 3-6. The game capped off with a spirit circle and each team voting on their choices for spirit MVP on the other team. Go Ruba!

Raz puts up a backhand around Areen’s strong mark

We then had some time to rest before playing our second game against Charcoal. We won the flip and pulled into what was a long first point. The girls kept up the long-game pressure, spacing out well into their horizontal stack formation. We went up 1-0, then took half 2-1. We figured out how to keep the disc moving close to the endzone and the girls ran hard through lots of long points. We ended up winning 4-3. Unfortunately, during the first part of the game, our primary handler, Gal, went down with a badly twister ankle. She ended up having to leave camp a couple hours to see a doctor. She’ll be fine, but she won’t be able to come back to camp. After the game, we all went to see her in the nurse’s office. We were definitely quite sad to see her go, but we gave her a great sendoff.

The Pink Ladies visit Gal

Tomorrow morning we play two more tournament games, then the tournament goes straight to 1v2 for the finals, and 3v4 for the, well, 3/4 game :)

Ruba gets a bit of help getting up. Watch out for this girl. She’s going to dominate. Correction. She already kinda dominates. And she’s 12!

After the games, the girls had a bit of free time before lunch began at 1pm. The usual table cheering ensued while everyone fueled up after an active morning. By 1:40 we were all in the auditorium where the kids were told about the various afternoon activities. I watched some Ultimate on the big screen in the auditorium before sneaking away for a short nap, which was fantastically helpful. Sleep is good? Yup.

By 4:30 the kids were beginning to meet up in the Quad to group up before their practices. No one was moving very quickly, and with the depleted numbers on my team and Maroon’s, we paired up for a zone-oriented practice. Practice ended up going very well. We threw, warmed up, and made some great headway introducing the zone. Most of the players had not see one before. It’s quite a thrill to be able to explain seriously important, brand new information to kids. Despite the heat, the girls ran hard and it seemed like they really took in what we presented and had them work through. It was also pretty surreal to practice next to a 100+ foot Bougainvillea spread, with a Roman aquaduct in the background. A little after 6pm we finished up with a “Pink Ladies!” cheer, and then the girls had some time to go get ready for the pool party.

Cutting through the zone

At 6:30, Meredith and I along with a few other coaches and players started the group waiting to board the busses. About 30 minutes later the whole camp has been transported by bus to the nearby pool where we grouped up in teams to enter the area. Inside, as we were just sitting down with our teams in the grassy area next to the pool, I heard a happy shriek and saw a running girl go straight over to… Yasmeen! It was so, so happiness inducing to see Yasmeen! After a long string of hugs, the teams socialized for a bit before dinner began.

Linda and Yasmeen :)

After filling up on a great BBQ dinner, the kids socialized for a little while before the pool was opened. For the next 2 hours the kids swam, dove for discs, and danced. The weather was cool and the true spirit of UP was present in every interaction. A particularly touching moment was when “Waving Flag”, a long-time UP favorite, was cranked up. I had a great tim being a part of the scrum of people in the pool trying to sky each other. Water really helped you get up!

Tomer gets up!

The pool party wrapped up with everyone circling up around the pool. David gave a few announcements, the Pearl crew plus a few backup singers performed a beautiful song in Hebrew, which was followed by everyone singing the camp song.

A short bus ride later we were all back at Manof. Many staff members headed over to the Mohadoun for the staff meeting, which David ended up canceling. I followed suite and called off the head coaches meeting. The extra free time, which many staff members put towards sleeping, was certainly appreciated.

One and half days left. Time certainly flies when you’re having the time of your life.

Sun, wind, shade, and a chameleon!

Yah, you read that right, a chameleon! The weather was phenomenal and the Ultimate was even better. We had our first full morning practices, chilled at the pool (layouts!), and played some more Ultimate in the evening. Training Camp 2013 is in full swing!

Flickr Photo Album – 6/26/13
YouTube Video – 6/26/13

While I did manage to get to sleep earlier than any other night this week, that didn’t turn in to me getting up an earlier. Instead I made it out to the Mohadoun by 7:30, which meant I had a fun scramble to print out the day’s issue of Get UP! and make it to breakfast. Alas, Tomer and I got the printer working and the issue looked great! Over in the dining hall we enjoyed pancakes and chocolate sauce, before all the teams headed out for their first full morning of practice. The boys bussed up and traveled to Tamra and the girls walked over to the Manof field.

Just as my kids got to the field, look what they noticed! Meredith got him off the ground…

And I got him safely to a nearby bush.

With the chameleon excitement getting us pumped up, my team got cleated up in the far quarter of the field that we had claimed for our practice session. After warmups, we ran through Go-To, played some Hot Box, and then I explained the positioning for a horizontal stack. After an hour break, we combined with team Maroon Mamas and ran through some defensive drills followed by a 15 minute scrimmage.

I was so impressed by the strength of all the kids! Ruba, a 12 year old girl on my team, scored twice with her amazing speed and great catches. Gal, a Jr. Worlds player, had careful throws, and asked me if she could work on her I/O throws during Go-To. Awesome. What I liked best was that my girls did what I asked — Play quick offense and throw to open people as soon as they were open.

At 12:30 we had spirit circle and then the girls had about 20 minutes of free time before lunch. I rested in air conditioning, although it was that needed since they day was party cloudy and breezy, such a wonderful treat after all the hear we experienced last summer. In the dining hall we all experienced the spirited cacophony, and filled up on standard lunch far.

Afterwards there was a quick meeting in the auditorium and then a bunch of the kids took a bus over to the pool. The rest stayed on campus and participated in a slew of activities. I worked on media and planned more of the rest of the day. I also spent some time taking photos at the slip and slide. Needless to say, the kids were having a “decently” good time :)

At 4:30 team pink was finishing up putting on their cleats back in the far corner of the Manof field. After warmups, and Go-To, we ran through a marking drill. Next we transitioned to talking more about horizontal stack, and then drilled the primary cutting pattern. The girls figured it our quickly! Next we worked on a 3-person weave drill, following by some long cutting. Practice went really, really well. Everyone left tired, content, and ready for our first games tomorrow!

After practice we had 30 minutes before dinner. In the dining room we were thrust back into the awesomeness that is eating with our family and table cheers. By 7:40 we were all in the auditorium where we watched a couple Ultimate top 10 videos and then Zolo and crew explained the evening activity.

All the kids are now out and about all over campus on a hunt for Linda. In about 90 minutes they should be tired enough to overcome their UP excitement and get to sleep.

Tomorrow is another big day!