Today has been a glorious day. All the kids arrived, the weather continued to be wonderful, and everywhere you looked something awesome was happening. All the preparation, all the setup — all the year round work of the local coaches and admin super stars builds to the amazing 12-day stretch that started today. What a grand experience.
I did manage to sneak an extra 30 minutes of sleep in this morning, which was certainly helpful given the pace of the day. By a bit after 7:30 I made it into the Mohadoun to a round of media catch up and coffee fun. It was quite clear, even in the early morning, that everyone was a bit more amped for the day ahead. We surely cranked through and amazing amount of work over the last few days, but nothing is like the arrival of the kids.
Over in the dining hall we socialized over breakfast and I continued my streak of mixing harif (Israeli hot sauce paste — yum!) in all of my meals. I guess I haven’t quite assimilated the proper amount of Israeli cuisine to fully appreciate all of the dining hall offerings. Outside the dining hall, David led us through one last prep meeting. Karym spoke about some housing topics and Nancy led us through some scheduling items. Next, we spread out to finish off the prep work for our various welcoming-related tasks.
I retreated to the desk in HQ next to Tomer where I typed out some more plans and sporadically wondered out into the quad and around campus to the gates to take photos. With a backdrop of pop songs, the registration table was setup, bracelets were laid out, and name tags were arranged. All was ready nice and early, which was good because the kids started arriving a bit early themselves, starting at around 10:15.
With each wave of new arrivals came a new wave of cheers from the welcoming crew, a team of coaches and CITs equipped with signs, dance moves, and music. Needless to say, they did a very good job at immediately welcoming each new arrival in a big, big way. After moving through the dancing greeters, the kids would walk through the underpass to the other side of campus, a short walk, to the registration table. There they checked in and found more hugs.
It’s so perfectly special to see these kids again. It’s absolutely a homecoming, to a family that reaches its full strength for these two weeks.
I moved through the crowds of kids, taking pictures and gathering hugs. Awesome.
The whole camp then grouped up in the auditorium for David’s welcoming presentation. After David greeted everyone, we watched the first past of last year’s slide show, a great way to get the kids even more excited about the week to come. The meeting capped off with the kids being grouped up into their teams for the first time. Go team Pink! :) The meeting ended a bit early so we had some extra time before lunch that we used to have the kids complete the intro surveys.
We then moved into the dining hall for our first round of controlled feeding chaos. The first table stomp cheers popped up, and there was definitely a ramping off of the overall energy at camp. The more kids know each other the louder they get.
After lunch we all went back into the auditorium for the more camp orientation. A new part this year was replacing a verbal presentation of the camp rules and beliefs with skits covering those topics performed by the staff. The skits were… hilarious. It was a bunch of material to get through, but the kids stayed engaged and entertained.
Next all the teams moved outside for an hour and a half of team time — slot of time used to start to get to know each other. My group talked about why were at Ultimate Peace and shared random, weird facts about ourselves. The coaches then unveiled the team names that they had chosen — my team is “Pink Ladies”, which was then used as the theme to paint a team flag. Ours turned out pretty dang awesome :)
After painting a smalle flag that will be hidden on campus, and searched for by all the other teams, we started throwing for a bit. Everyone on my coaching team was immediately impressed by the strength of our players! They all have solid throws and can catch… well! Towards the end of team time, we passed out the camper hats, shorts, nd jerseys, which all look GREAT! Go color coordination! Well, all except for the green hats, which don’t quite match the rest of us :) At 4:30 we made out way back to the auditorium where we ran through staff introductions. The kids learned a bunch more rules, and found out that Karym really controls the universe.
By 5:30 all the teams were starting their first practice. My team, Pink, cleated up and then assistant coach Sarah got them warmed up. Afterwards we drilled Go-To, then I had them do a pressure catching drill. We didn’t have too much space to work with so we stayed with small-area drills, continuing through the marking drill, and a kneeling layout drill. I also had them work on their hammers. Duh. Towards the end of the sessions I collected their two goals — two things they each want to work on during the week.
At 6:30 they had 30 minutes of free time before we regrouped for dinner at 7pm. On the way to the dining hall, I picked up our fully dried flag and peeled off the tape. It came out so, so nice! Go Pink Ladies!
Dinner was loud, chaotic, and a super nova of spirit come alive. Cheers were passed between tables, the frequency of table stomping ramped up from lunch, and each team presented their flag with a march through the dining hall, presenting everyone with their team name. Oh, and dinner itself was pretty good :)
After dinner we were back in the auditorium for a little more time for some announcement and an explanation of the rest of the evening.
Right now the camp is outside on the field working through 5 Ultimate-game stations. Soon they will be transitioning to a camp-wide game of Galaxy Quest.
I have no doubt every last person at the Manof will end their day tired, content, and gloriously happy to be at Camp Ultimate Peace.