What do you see?

Sometime not too long ago, I heard the quote that goes something like, “Today’s children are the grandparents of the people who will change the world.” I guess it’s meant to imply that the world WILL change and that it will take time. It’s an optimistic message in some circumstances where the change that people are looking to see isn’t seen to necessarily be possible by all. I’d like to edit that quote for these kids, right here, right now, to “Today’s children will change the world.”

Of that, for these kids, I have no doubt.

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Flick Photo Album – 7/3/13
YouTube Video – 7/3/13

This morning’s coffee was especially good, made more so by the fact that I managed to get to sleep rather early. Fully awake for my round of hot cocoa and corn flakes, I talked to more new staff members at breakfast before heading out to the field at 8:15, with a quick stopover in the auditorium to get an afternoon slideshow prepped for David. By 8:30 all the coaches were getting cleated up for the morning coaches training session. People threw around on the field as everyone got set, and when everyone was ready Mickey led the whole crew of 60+ staff through an example warmup.


After she finished I prompted to group to share their best dynamic stretches. It was fun to see what they brought up. We then transitioned into coaching teams where each group was given 10 minutes to figure out how they would teach their first lesson on vertical stack. Two groups were then chosen at random and the rest of the teams played the role of UP campers. The lessons went really well. The content was strong, the player management was nuanced (for the most part :) ), and tons of great information was shared.

Jeff Landsmen leads a group through a vertical stack lesson

Next, the same thing was done with dump-swing-continue. Once again the lessons came together well. I was particularly impressed by how well the new coaches had figured out the proper pacing for new material, and for figuring out the proper brevity. We capped off the morning with a few reminders and Nancy spoke for a bit about how to bring it all together. On a personal note, it’s continually surreal to me to work with such a truly talented coaching staff — 60+ people with well over 450 years of Ultimate experience.

Next, we moved into the auditorium for more staff training. We learned more about the staff manual and then spent about an hour working through our skits. Everyone had great things to say about what are already quite strong performances of the camp values, rules, and beliefs. Our acting talent is pretty strong :) Well, “strong”, might be the best way to put it.

We then had an hour with our coaching teams. Each team had been tasked with focusing on making sure each team job was assigned to a coaching team member and to come up with a plan for the first practice, which is happening tomorrow. My group work efficiently and everyone is clearly excited for the arrival of the campers to get all the planning and prep fully into motion. We broke early and had some time to relax before lunch. After lunch we had a meeting to go over some more training topics, and then everyone was given the chance to watch a new UP movie that follows a few local Ultimate players. Unfortunately, the English subtitles weren’t ready, so a bunch of the coaches chose to watch the video in a couple of days. I used the extra free time, which dove-tailed with me not going to the pool, to catch a really, truly amazing, power nap.

At 4:15 I was up and back to work on media in the Mohodoun. Most of the large media team checked in and we got a few systems ironed out. We now have 2 people posting to Facebook and our UP blog person (Elliot) is fully set to get people to post pretty frequently. There are 4 or 5 more people taking photos, so I should have many more to work with. Additionally, another UP coach, Katherine, is working on creating 2-3 more videos for this week. Here comes even more UP media!

Task team registration assemble!

By 5:15 I was setup for the last coaches training. I entered the auditorium to find Dan and David prepping an impressive video interview station for their interview with Yasmin. By a little after 5:30 the coaching session began and I ran through a few important practice design points. The coaches then grouped up with coaches from other teams and talked about their best ideas, things to avoid, and what they were most nervous about. The conversations were deep and substantial. I then brought them all together to hear what they had come up with, and have an all-coaches discussion about their thoughts. I was really happy with that they brought up.

UP coaches sharing ideas

David and Nancy then closed out the session with a discussion of how important how we teach Ultimate and Spirit is to the mission of Ultimate Peace, and how we’re in the process of figuring out a more codified vision of that future path.

We then relaxed for a bit and had a social, busy dinner during which is was hard to imagine what’s it’s going to be like with 121 MORE people in the dining hall. If it was a chaotic, spirited cacophony last week, it’s going to be… quite something this week! After dinner we all came back into the auditorium for a panel discussion. The panel was made up of 6 people who lived in Israel — 5 campers and Jez.

The panel was spectacular. Jez added a truly valuable perspective that was inspiring. The kids were articulate, brave, genuine, and bared themselves open to the whole staff. It was incredible. The wisdom of the kids was staggering. I have total and absolute faith in few things in this world. UP kids are one of those things.

Right as the panel was wrapping up, we got word that Karym had made it back to campus. The whole staff bolted for the door and created a human tunnel for him to follow that stretched the whole length of the auditorium.

A UP tunnel for Karym!

About 3 minutes later he came in to huge cheers and a very happy Jez waiting for him at the end of the tunnel.

Karym then spoke for a bit about what he had been up to — working the final paper work for the 30 kids coming from the West Bank. We were so very happy to hear that all his efforts were successful and that he obtained all of the necessary permits! Hooray!

Everyone was then off to work on more prep tasks. I plugged in at my now usual media table and was soon joined by the media team. We got a post made to the UP blog and have a few more lined up. FB posting is going well, and all the photos and videos are looking great. Alex is kicking butt at creating the daily Get UP! newsletter. It’s all working well.

At 10:45 I ran the first Summer Camp head coaches meeting. We cruised through a few topics, worked through a couple concerns, and then adjourned after at my self-imposed 15 minute meeting time limit.

There is now a calm to the Mohodoun and surrounding space. We’re not frantic. We’re ready. As someone said at today’s panel, “Bring on the peace”.

Bring it on indeed.

Shifting up a gear

We’re now gearing up for 50% more kids, almost 75 of whom are new to camp. In order to keep ahead of that wave, we have twice as many coaches at camp, and judging by the apparent energy in the air, we are going to be more than ready for camp to start in less than 2 days. I know it’s a bit risky to be too optimistic about prep work for so complex a task, but it feels right to be this confident. We have fabulous team of coaches and admins who are more than up to the task. We’re proven from past years and more importantly, last week. This week is going to ridiculously awesome.

Flick Photo Album – 7/2/13
YouTube Video – 7/2/13

I managed to find myself a normal(ish) amount of sleep last night, so when I settled down outside the Mohodoun to catch up on email, I was pretty close to fully awake. A round of David’s coffee later, I was truly ready for the day. With lots of new staff members filtering into the Mohadoun, I got to say hi to just about every new staff member. It was so great to see Ava again!

Ava! Go STJ!

Most of the staff packed into one large table at breakfast and enjoyed meeting each other. By shortly after 9am we were in the auditorium where David and Nancy ran us through the first rounds of staff orientation. We talked about the camp and moved through several pages of the staff manual. We went over camp roles, coaching teams were announced, and every stood and introduced themselves and said why they were at Ultimate Peace. Right before lunch each coaching team was given their skit topic, to be worked on over the next couple days and presented as part of camper orientation. Oh, the other amazing part of the morning was being able to Negev, a dog that’ll be with us on campus for the next day.

Negev in a UP jersey! :)

During lunch each coaching team socialized and talked a bit about the skit. As usual, I enjoyed some harif on various Schnitzel-like products. After lunch we made it back into the auditorium where we worked through more staff orientation tasks. There was a panel made up of returning coaches covering what new staff members should do in certain circumstances. At the end, the different task teams were described and then we were all set out to get to work on our tasks. I relocated to my dorm room where 8 more people joined to work on media. With Alex returning to do the Get UP! newsletter and Sarah to post to FB, along with 7 new people to help with photos, video, and blogging, this week’s media presence should be even bigger than last. By around 3:30 I finished the media planning and worked on the final edits to the coaching sessions. I snuck in a quick nap and by 4:15 was headed over the auditorium to get setup for the coaches training session.

Summer Camp coaches training

At a little after 4:30 I was in motion. With 50+ people in the audience there was a “bigger” vibe to the event. The coaches were engaged, active participants, and focused on the task at hand. We talked about spirit, covered lots of important points, and then moved outside. They handed in questions they’d like answered, and on those sheets I was able to take a quick census that ended up telling us that there was over 400 years of Ultimate experience in the audience, with the average person having played 7.5 years of Ultimate. Wow! Next we moved outside for the skills section of the training session.

Summer Camp coaches training

The coaching teams came up with methods for teaching basic skills, then gave their presentations to the whole group. The main focus of the activity was on teaching tactics, and the groups did well! It’s certainly a challenge to present any teaching material in a truly effective manner, but especially so when you’re working in a triple language environment. Nancy added in her great voice to the evening, as did her husband. What a power couple! David spoke for a bit at the end and then everyone was off for a bit free time before dinner. After filling up one more harif-based cousine, I was back in the auditorium for more training.

Flag time!

Nancy ran us through some more important orientation materials, taught us about the flags, and the CITs helped us through the Summer Camp staff’s first run-through of the camp song. We then got into our coaching teams to practice our skits. My group retreated to the Mohadoun and came up with a great skit for “Friendship”. I then hunkered down for media work while the rest of the camp went out to the fields for name-based social, get-to-know-you games.

Tomorrow we work through our last day of training and iron out all the details for the camper invasion on Thursday. Here they come!

Round 2 is about to begin

The past 48 hours have been extremely restful. On Sunday we all went rafting on the river Jordan, followed by a tour of a winery. I slept on all the bus rides between locations, which was a wonderful added bonus. On Sunday I went down to Tel Aviv by train to spend a day in the city with a couple UP coaches who were taking off for home. We had a nice time out at night on Sunday, followed by a full day or walking around the city on Monday. We relaxed on the beach, ate very tasty meals in the city, and took in the sunny views. Last night I made it back to Acco with a new UP coach, and spent the evening getting back into the regular swing of things. I worked on coaches training with Nancy, wrangled a wireless router, and met lots of the new coaches. The energy level was amped up with all the new arrivals. The Mohadoun hummed with conversation and camp prep.

Beach time in Acco!

Today is the grand kick off of what is gong to be a phenomenal two days of prep and  training followed by five days of Summer Camp. Everyone is excited for what’s to come, especially for the incredible amount of new energy for this iteration of camp: 60 coaches and CITs (up from 30) and 120 campers (up from 80). Let’s go UP!