Off to the Middle East!

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 2.54.41 PMDue to a generous grant from the Williston professional development program, I will be traveling to the Middle East for 17 days to visit math departments, coach Ultimate, and fold origami. I leave on 3/5 and return on 3/22.

While in Israel and the West Bank I will be visiting Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, Tamra, Ra’anana, and several other cities.

Needless to say, I am incredibly excited.

While traveling I will be posting updates to my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Black Ice 2013

This coming March I’ll be taking Black Ice, my youth club open team, back to the Chicago Invite. Anyone, 13 or older, who has some playing experience and will not graduate from high school before March, 16th 2013 is eligible to apply. Complete team information is online at

Chicago Invite 2012 HS Division HL from luke johnson on Vimeo.

BUDA YCC 2012: Day 3

BUDA Mixed brings home Boston’s first YCC gold!

On the second day of YCC competition the BUDA Open team went 1-1, losing 7-15 against the eventual tournament winner, Minnesota and taking down Pittsburgh 15-8, to finish 5th.

The BUDA Mixed team started off the day with a convincing 13-4 win over Chicago. The game followed very closely the patterns of the day before. We locked down their horizontal offense with a hard straight up mark and forced lots of under throws that we batted down for Ds. One change was that we did run a zone for a few points that proved for be effective.

In the semis, we went up against a very energetic brand new YCC from Maine that I was very excited to play. I know all the coaches, many of the players, and I’m always thrilled to see new teams, especially ones that are competitive, well-run, spirited, and that show no fear. Maine had beat two-time defending champs the day before on double game point and had come off a strong 13-8 win over Wisconsin coming into the semis. They had momentum.

We pulled to start the game and they played a solid O point, working it patiently through our tough person-D to put us down for the first time in the tournament. We responded with our own clean O-point. The game ramped up in intensity as we traded points to 4-4, after which we broke Maine for the first time and went up 5-4. We then put on a zone, forced a turn, and went up 6-4. Maine responded and then we gave up a turn close to the line after getting the disc back with our zone. Maine tried to break Emmet for the goal and he strongly hand blocked the throw. We then quickly moved the disc down the field to take half 7-5. Maine didn’t score again and we muscled our way to a 13-5 win, completely shutting Maine down with our crushing zone.

Next up we moved over to field 6 to relax during our bye before the finals. We spread out around the tournament, watched the Open team take down Pittsburgh, and I had a short nap on a couch at tournament central. Back over at field 6 we started warming up on one of the adjacent unused fields as the Open semi finals game on our field finished up a barn-burner with Minnesota winning 12-11 over Seattle. Shortly before 2pm we did our focus drill and then moved onto the field at 2pm to run end-zone.

We took the field fully fired up and pulled to start the game for the 6th time in 6 games. We forced a turn at mid-field then calmly worked the disc in. Seattle responded with a strong score, and then we took off, scoring 4 goals before Seattle responded. The points were all intense, contested, and we earned every turn. The game speed was higher than all our previous games and we responded well. We held our person D the entire game and it worked well. We took half 7-2.

The second half was a bit more even as we traded points for a while, but Seattle could not solve our cutting speed and the amazing power of our women. Seattle did try a zone on us, the first we had seen all tournament, and we calmly worked the disc down the field until Seattle switched to person when our women completely took over, threw the last 5 throws of the point and scored. Rory pulled down a huge layout score, Vinny dominated… everywhere, and Lipari was the engine. Anna, Tulsa, Malti, and Marianna had huge receptions, and Sam Letcher had a crushing handblock, immediately followed by a layout catch to save the possession, which he then finished with a skying goal.

We won on a short, easy throw to take home BUDA’s first YCC gold!

After our initial celebration and shaking hands with Seattle, we circled up as a team and talked about the weekend. It was a wonderful extended moment.

Back over at tournament central, we settled into the large group of people waiting for the awards ceremony to begin. Spirits were, of course, very high. BUDA’s medal run began with Eliot Bemis receiving the Open team’s individual spirit award, followed by Justin Wu, who received the Mixed team’s. Soon after, the Mixed team took the stage to receive their championship medals!

We then bussed up and had some time to relax and get cleaned up at the hotel before heading out to a big group dinner at a nearby restaurant. Everyone had a great time being social and eating a tremendous amount during dinner. By the time we got back to the hotel everyone was super tired, but many found their second wind and had a great time together in the hotel.

It’s now Monday morning and we’re all enjoying a slow wake up. At 10:30 we’re heading to the Mall of America to have some fun before catching our flight back home.


BUDA YCC 2012: Day 2

The BUDA YCC teams lit up the fields today in Blaine.

Photos from the day are online right here. Photos from yesterday are online here. Yesterday’s write-up is online right here.

The Mixed team went 3-0, beating Wisconsin 13-3, New York 13-1, and Minneapolis 13-3. The Open team went 2-1, beating Atlanta 15-7 and New York 15-6, and losing to Denver 11-12.

Full tournament results can be found here: Mixed, Open

Later this evening you should find detailed write ups of each division done by USAU reporters online right here.

Tomorrow morning, Mixed starts off the day with a quarter finals game against Chicago, most likely then followed by semis against Maine, and then almost certainly a finals matchup against Seattle. The Open team first faces Minnesota followed by their semis game against the winner of Pittsburgh and and Seattle. Who they will face in the finals is hard to predict (Either Delaware, Denver, Chicago, or Cincinnati. I’m pulling for Cincy)

Here’s how we got where we are:

The morning began with another round of early wake up calls — well, not too early since the team wasn’t too into the super early calls as invoked by… me. The Mixed team cruised through breakfast first and took off right around 6:45. By 7am we were at the fields setting up on the field we’d be playing on all day. The Open team arrived shortly after and began their warm up routine. At 8am we joined the coaches and captains meeting and by 8:45 our warm up routine was coming to a close. At 9am games began.

Mixed went up against an athletic yet small in numbers Wisconsin team. We broke them twice to start the game, then switched to a zone for a point which was thoroughly thrashed.  So, we moved back to a straight up person-D against their H-stack offense, and we shut them down. All of the potential we showed in warms up and with the raw talen on hand was fully realized and we rolled to a 13-3 win.

In their first game, Open played very well against Atlanta and won in convincing fashion 15-7.

In the second game of the day, Mixed came out on fire against New York and never looked back. Our shut down straight up person-D, careful precision O, and monster receptions propelled us to a 13-1 win.

Next, the Mixed team had a bye while Open went up against a physical Denver team. After going down 5-1 on some very tough Denver D, the Open team fought back to 5-5. After trading points the rest of the game, Denver ended up with the disc not so far from the end zone as hard cap was called. They scored, and BUDA Open ended up losing 11-12.

In the third game of the day, Mixed faced the #2 seed in the pool, Minnesota. We knew they had an athletic line and strong women, so we knew it was important to come out strong. We did, breaking them on the first two points before allowing them to score. We ended up taking half 7-3 off of some furious play by our girls who dominated. We ended up playing 4 girls 3 boys as often as we could. In the second half we sealed the deal by not letting Minnesota score.

Open ended up playing New York in their third game (a crossover with pool A), a matchup BUDA Open easily won 15-6.

After the games ended, the Mixed team took some group photos and then all the teams bussed up and drove the short distance to the tournament dinner.

We enjoyed several rounds of soft tacos and the lively social atmosphere of all the teams eating in one place. 10 players and coach Hourigan stayed to watch the coaches game and everyone came back to the hotel. All the kids are spread out either relaxing in ice baths, the hot tub, the pool, or watching TV in their rooms. Team meetings are in an hour followed by sleep.

A special shout out: The BUDA women are unreal.

YCC championship here we come!

BUDA YCC 2012: Day 1

I’m currently out in Blaine, MN coaching the BUDA YCC Mixed team at the 2012 USAU Youth Club Championships. This is my 7th time coaching at the event in its’ 8 year history. In ’05 the girls team I helped coach came in 2nd. In ’06 my open team finished 5th. Over the past 5 years my mixed team has come in 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd, and 2nd. I am very ready to take home the gold.

This morning began with early wake up call going out to all the rooms, followed by a pretty good hotel-provided breakfast. By 8am all the kids were grouped up in the lobby and we took the 4 vans the short distance to our practice fields, two of the same fields the tournament will be using this weekend. The morning was cool, bright, and slightly breezy. In other words, perfect Ultimate weather. For the next three hours the open and mixed teams ran through drills, strategy sessions, and some social games. The kids bonded, everyone had a great time, and the teams looked very strong. Before leaving the fields we took a group picture and then drove to a nearby grouping of various lunch establishments.

After a very relaxing lunch, we all headed back to the hotel where everyone enjoyed two hours of free time. Some kids took advantage of the pool, others watched Olympic coverage, and a few napped. By 3pm we were all back in the lobby and 15 minutes later we were pulling into the Bowling alley.

The kids partitioned themselves into groups of 5 or 6 and spent the next 2 hours bowling up a storm. A few kids with actual experience dominated the scores, but many new players held their own with special styles like “hopping on one foot and bowling slowly”, and, “I either miss all the pins or knock them all down”. We had a great time.

At 5:30 we got back in the vans and after making it to the Olive Garden which was totally packed, we drove the short distance to Victory Pizzeria which managed to seat our group of 50 in one area. The kids gorged themselves on pizza, pasta, calzones, and various other diners items, and quickly found themselves very, very tired.

After dinner I headed over to tournament central to go through check in while coach Westcott and Hourigan made the Target run. Less than an hour ago both teams had their team meetings and now everyone is in their rooms either sleeping or very close to unconsciousness.

Everything is set for a fantastic weekend of Ultimate!

The tournament webpage is online right here.

Mixed Schedule: Score Reporter, PDF

Open Schedule: Score Reporter, PDF

A few photos from day 1 are online right here.

2012 VT HS Ultimate State Awards

USAU recently released the awards for coaches of the year and all state rosters.

A big congrats to StJA girls Varsity Coach Jonathan Davis for being voted the VT HS Girls Ultimate coach of the year and to Sarah Lynch, Cyrus Ready-Campbell, Noah Abramson, Julian Grant, and Connor Dannis for being selected for the all-state team rosters!

The complete awards listing can be found right here.

Community Visit, Departure, Jordan, Home

Camp Ultimate Peace 2012 is now complete and I am back home in St. Johnsbury, VT becoming reacclimatized to life in the states. It’s been a long journey from Acco to my home in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont….

Immediately after camp concluded and the last campers were on their busses home, the mad packing scramble began. Equipment was broken down, room cleaning began, and the logistics of everyone’s exit strategies for getting home fully coalesced. My fun began with a trip to a nearby car rental agency with a group of UP coaches. Due to Shabbat, UP needed to pick up a bunch of cars, and I needed one to get down to Jerusalem later the next day. After a short battle getting my rented GPS from Russian to German to English, I made it back to the Manof where everyone rested and then headed out for falafel on the beach! As the sun went down we socialized and enjoyed being together. That night everyone slept well.

The next morning Idan, Zolo, Mickey, and I traveled to Bu’eine Nujeidat, a village an hour east of Acco, located up int he valley overlooking large farms. The drive was smooth and we easily found the indoor playing area, a welcome respite from the high temperatures. Inside we found a very excited group of 15 players. Almost all of them had gone to camp and all of them were super excited for the clinic.

Over the course of the next two hours we ran through some drills, scrimmaged, and then at the end grouped up to talk about the session and give out spirit awards. The session was active, fun, and full of the joy of play. Everyone had a great time. Afterwards, we went out into the village to have lunch in two locations. Idan and I went to one home and Mickey and Zolo went to another. The meal was fantastic and so was meeting the families. Our host player was incredibly gracious and it was wonderful to meet the extended families in the community. By the time we left we were thoroughly stuffed and very content with the day. Back on campus we all got back to packing before later that evening we all took off for dinner in old Acco!

The next day, after a lazy morning, all the staff packed into rental cars to drive over to the Jordan river rafting location. Along the way a couple of our cars got flat tires (fun!), a problem that was quickly remedied by our talented coaching staff. Once we arrived at the rafting launch, we found it to be fantastically crowded so the whole staff headed out to find a place to go swimming. Eventually we found a section of the river to frolic in, at about the same time Maggie, Gabe, and I had to head out on our drive south to Jerusalem. The three of us said our goodbyes, wished everyone well, and started the drive south.

The Israeli countryside is gorgeous and really fun to drive through, especially on Shabbat when there are very few other cars on the road. The GPS led us straight to Dan’s place in northeast Tel Aviv where we dropped off our big bags, and then continued east to Jerusalem. Driving through untrafficed J’lem streets was quite fun. We found our parking lot, took a cab to the check point, walked through, and then took another cab to the Paradise hotel, located right at the entrance to the Azzeh refugee camp. There we met up with Linda and Bob, before we checked in and rested for a little while before dressing for the wedding!

Down in the hotel dining area we connected with Camp UP camper Lara and a couple of her friends, who joined us for a short meal before we packed into a van and were driven to the wedding site. In the evening light was got out of the van to a scene of dancing, headed by Hamouda and the groom, his older brother. I love all the dancing while sitting on the shoulders of others! We followed as the group danced their way into the dining hall, connecting with an orbital of cousins who knew us from Camp UP.

Inside the reception area Gabe, Bob, and I found a table on the first floor with all the men, while Maggie and Linda went up to the sixth floor to join the women’s group. Over the next several hours we talked, socialized, danced, and took in the lively atmosphere. We all got pulled in to dance, talked to many of the groom’s relatives, and had a blast interacting with all the kids who swarmed around our table. This summer, the 8 kids from Bethlehem were the first to come from the city except for Hamouda. Next year I wouldn’t be surprised if 20 Bethlehem kids came to camp! Towards the end of the night I got a chance to talk to the groom, who seemed a little tired after all the many hours of dancing. Late that night we took a van back to the hotel where we spent the night.

The next morning Gabe, Maggie, and I went over to Hamouda’s house to say goodbye before heading out. We found Hamouda’s brother Noer (sp?) sleeping on a downstairs couch, displaced by the large amount of relatives staying over. He surfaced from his rest and soon after we were joined by Hamouda’s parents Kamel and Sowad. We talked for a while and eventually Hamouda surfaced, having managed to get a couple hours of sleep. Brothers of the groom don’t sleep very much on wedding day 2 of 3! We learned all about what was to come that day — the main even being a large meal for almost 1,000 people! Kamel told us about the 300Kg of meat that they were cooking! Eventually we said our goodbyes and caught a taxi back to the checkpoint.

In J’lem we took another taxi back to our rental car and started the journey west back to Tel Aviv. Along the way we stopped to do some rental car paperwork (hooray for weird car regs in Israel!), and made it into Tel Aviv by mid-afternoon where I was dropped off close to the beach. A couple blocks later I met up with my college roommate, Eric, who had flown in the day before to join me on a romp to Jordan!

First, we walked north along the Tel Aviv coast, enjoying the bright sunny day and catching up on each other’s lives. We made it to a nice air conditioned lobby area where we grabbed lunch, coffee, cash, and some rest. We then caught a taxi to the main transport station in southern Tel Aviv where we idled for a couple hours until our bus to Eilat took off around 5pm. The ride south was smooth and easy. The bus stopped a couple times, at which time we got some good views of the Negev dessert. At around 9pm we made it into Eilat where we were happy to see our hotel was right next to the station. We also found the 95 degree weather at 9pm to be quite… intense!

After getting checked into our hotel, we walked down to the Eilat boardwalk to take in what we were told was the Vegas of Israel. It certainly was a Vegas meets LA meets Israel vibe. The IMAX pyramid was particularly intense (gaudy?). We had a great meal of sushi (for me) and Pad Thai (for Eric) before walking back to our hotel to get to sleep early.

The next morning we woke up early and caught a taxi to the border crossing, arriving by 6:15 with the hopes of crossing into Jordan right at the 6:30 opening. We ended up being the second pair of people through what was a very smooth if not long crossing area. On he other side we found a taxi (agressive!) and were soon heading north east to Wadi Rum. A little over an hour later we were dropped off at the Wadi Rum Visitor’s Center where we idled for a little while before our guide showed up around 9:15. The guide (Sulliman) then drove us into Rum Village, about 5Km into Wadi Rum.

Our first top was at a small grocery stand where Sulliman picked up the food we’d need for our day and night in the Wadi Rum dessert. After he loaded up, we drove a short distance to his house where we enjoyed some very nice sweet mint tea (my favorite!) and met his wife and a few of his kids. We learned more about the village and his life in Wadi Rum. Full of sugary tea, we got back in the jeep and headed out into the Rum. About 300 yards from the house the street just… ended.. and the dessert began. We drove out into the sand along nominally traveled paths and made out first stop at a small tent complex adjacent to a spring. While Sulliman rested, Eric and I hiked up several hundred yard to the mouth of the spring where we got our first long view of the area. The colors, rock formations, and utter desolation were all quite intense!

Next, we started our drive further into the Wadi Rum. We stopped at several valley formations where we got to climb amongst the rocks. We saw ancient rock carvings, a very large sand dune, and were careful not to burn our feet on the very hot sand. We also had the chance to talk to several other travelers and I got to practice my Mandarin!

By around 1pm we stopped for lunch and several hours of rest in the shade. Sulliman prepared a wonderful meal of vegetable stew and melon, and we rested in the cool shade.  It’s amazingly unreal the temperature difference between sun and shade in the dessert! Around 4pm we roused and drove about 20 minutes to the Bedouin camp where we spent the night.

At the camp Eric and I were joined by a father and his two young children. Together we climbed to a nearby ridge and watched as the sun went down over the large valley. Sitting among the alien rocks, with the warm breeze and bright sun is an experience I will always remember. We took sets of pictures of a falling sun, talked to the French family, and then made our way back to the tents for dinner. There we set up pads outside and then Sulliman brought our the dinner of a chicken and vegetable stew. Yum! Eric and I had fun speaking with the French children, and eventually we all went to sleep under the incredibly clear starry night.

The next morning Eric and I woke up early so that Sulliman could take us to the bus stop in Rum Village for our trip north to Petra. There we were supposed to take a 5JD (~$9) bus ride to Petra, but instead were greeted by two men who said the bus wasn’t running. This is the basic gist of the conversation that ensued:

Random guys (who we suspect were in collusion with Sulliman): “The bus isn’t running today.”

Us: “Why?”

Random guys: “The bus driver died last night.”

Us: “Wow, we’re so sorry. How’d he die?”

Random guys: “He was shot in the head.” (Hand motions used to explain.)

At this point Eric is starring down Sulliman who really can’t look Eric in the eyes.

Us: “Okay… how much is that taxi going to charge to get to Petra?”

Random guys: “40JD”

Us: “Yah, we’re not going to pay that.”

We eventually get them down to $43 USD and head on our way north on what turned out to be a great ride… just preceeded by a freakin’ weird story. (We strongly suspect one of the random guys was the bus drive and that since it was the low season he knew he wasn’t going to get a full bus to Petra.)

The taxi took us straight to our hotel in Petra — the Valentine Inn — where we checked in to what turned out to be a great and affordable room. We unloaded our stuff, took a quick trip to town to find an ATM, and then got a ride in the Valentine Inn van to the entrance of Petra, arriving around 10am.

We were stymied a bit at the entrance to the valley, but soon found our way down the paved path, past the Indiana Jones gift shops, and to the ticket counter. We then joined the moderately large amount of people on the 1km initial walk to the valley, past the Djinn blocks and a few temple carving. Over the next 6 hours we walked the entire length of the valley, past unreal rock carvings including the famed Treasury (Indiana Jones time!) and all the way to the Monestary. Along the way Eric and I met a very nice couple on the third week of their honeymoon trip all over Europe and the Middle East. We ended up spending the rest of the day with them along with Wanda, a UP coach who we randomly found on one of the side trails. It was a hot, hot sunny day filled with wonders of rock and intense views of an ancient city. We drank liters of water and several glasses of amazing fresh orange juice. By the time we made it out of the valley, back at the main entrance, we were ready to rest.

Eric and I then headed back to our hotel to clean up, after which we met up with Wanda at the Movenpick hotel, right near the Petra entrance, to dive into their lavish buffet. The meal was stunning and we ate until we were well past full. The food was excellent and the conversation even better. Out on the street after dinner Eric and I said goodbye to Wanda and took a cab back to the hotel.

The next morning Eric and I met our prearranged early cab (we met a great driver the day before) who took us to “Little Petra”, located a few km north of Petra, a site smaller, still very interesting, and much less traveled.

We were the first people there, and saw no one else in our hour at the site. Eric and I climbed all over ancient stairways, saw 1st century AD paintings, and had a wonderful time exploring. We even got to test a little bit of our rock climbing expertise.

Back at the entrance to Little Petra, we found our cab (the only one!) and he took us to a secondary (Bedouin) entrance to Petra. High above the valley the path looked like a long road with no shade, but it turned out to be a great walk filled with other sights to see along the way. We eventually merged with the main Petra canyon where we spent the next 3 hours working our way back to the main entrance, taking every side journey we could. By the time we made it back to the main entrance we had seen many more tombs, a huge free standing temple, and massive rock rooms. It was also pretty unreal to sip a nice soda, relaxing infront of the final resting place of the Holy Grail :)

Out at the main entrance, our driver picked us up, and drove use back to the Valentine Inn where we picked up our bags. Next, we made a short stop in the center of Petra where our driver got us a Schwarma lunch, which was very tasty and very cheap considering we weren’t the ones making the purchase. We then got on the highway and buzzed south, making the drive back to Aqaba in about 90 minutes.

Out in the hot, HOT sun of the border parking lot, we said goodbye to our driver and made out way through the crossing. The Jordanians were all humorous about the 46C (113 degrees F!) heat, while the Israeli section was a bit more serious, but in a building with AC. At the end of the checkpoint we exchanged some money back into Sheckles, and then made it to parking where we got a taxi back to Eilat’s bus station. There we got our tickets, had lunch, and then walked down to the water where we had a brief swim in the Red Sea!

After drying off (not hard!) we made our way back to the station and found our bus. We saw more of the desert over the the next 5 hours and read while the miles passed us by. We eventually made it into Tel Aviv around 10pm where we took a taxi north to the Hayarkon 48 hostel, where we checked in, dropped off our stuff, and went out to the beach area to walk around and get a late night dinner. We stayed up a bit longer, but were quite tired so we headed to bed relatively early in our 4-person hostel room.

The next morning we packed up our stuff, put it into one of the hostel’s storage lockers, and walked south east to the HaCarmel Shuk (market). We walked the long isles of stalls, pausing to purchase a few food items, our favorite being a very large Druze crepe with chocolate sauce. We left the Shuk stuffed and well content for the walk southward to Jaffa. There we saw a great view of Tel Aviv and then found a small cafe overlooking the Jaffa harbor (one of the oldest on the planet) where we enjoyed some lemonade and shade. A couple hours and lots of conversation later, we walked north along the coast, all the way to the hostel where we got our stuff. After a short internet cafe break, we caught a taxi north to Dan’s house where were talked for a while as Dan worked on logistics for the Israeli National Junior’s teams upcoming trip to Junior Worlds in Dublin. (He’s one of the girls team coaches.) We then drove out to a nearby Asian restaurant where I got my weekly dosage of sushi along with some fantastic spicy noodles.

Next, we picked up my bags at Dan’s house and he drove Eric and I to the nearby train station. There we said our goodbyes to Dan, who gave me a VERY cool Team Israel jersey (#pi!). In the station Eric and I found our platform and soon after had to part ways — Eric continued on to Jerusalem and a week more of traveling while I went to the airport to head home. What a grand 4 days we had together!

At the airport I cleared El Al security (always fun!), and relaxed at my gate. On the plane I quickly feel asleep and managed to stay unconscious for the first 8 hours of the 11.5 hour flight from Tel Aviv to JFK. Upon touching down I cleared all of the paperwork hurdles as fast as possible, but didn’t make my connection due to the initial flight being an hour late. So, I enjoyed a “fun” 5 hours in JFK waiting for my connection to Boston, which meant that by the time I made it to Boston it was Friday rush hour. So… the drive from Boston to STJ ended up taking 5 hours instead of 3…. but I eventually made it home.

I’ve now been home for three days. The reentry to life back in the states has been smooth, although, like everyone who is lucky enough to have a summer vacation, I don’t want summer to end and work to begin. I do still have a couple more weeks of freedom, which I will certainly enjoy.

My Ultimate Peace summer went so very far beyond everything I could have imagined it to be. I got to be a part of something truly special, in a unique environment, and I helped make the world a better place in a real and direct way.

My entire UP experience was made all the more meaningful by the fact that it was made possible by the support of my friends and family. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone out there who supported my journey.

Thank you for making it possible for me to collect many new stories, make hundreds of new friends, and have a better understanding of the complex world in which we live.

Thank you.

Summer Camp Day 5

This morning began with an even higher energy level running through camp than usual. With only a half day left of camp, everyone was trying to savor every moment. After breakfast and a short meeting in the auditorium, all of the non-finals bound teams made it out to the main fields for two simultaneous coed pickup games.

All of the teams were mixed together and the games were played 4-3. The on and off field energy was wonderful. The kids played and cheered hard. Even though the temperature was climbing to around 37 C, everyone was active. By around 10:15, the two mixed games finished up and the four finals teams started their warm ups. Soon after, both finals games were started side by side so everyone could watch both games at the same time. I was impressed by the overall high level of play and how much all four teams had improved over the course of the camp.

After the finals the kids were sent off to clean up their rooms and pack. The center of Manof was eventually filled with bags, which were then all moved over to outside the dining  hall during lunch. During the packing time I got to sit in while the 8 campers from Bethlehem were interviewed about their experience at UP. It was wonderful to hear them speak about what they had seen, learned, and come away with.

The last lunch was loud and electric. Teams worked through their cheer repertoires, and there were very few quiet moments. Shortly after 12:30 we all packed into the auditorium for camp closing.

David led the procession of thank you speeches, and other notes of recognition including the all-camp starting 7, the highest player recognition in camp. Team White Noise’s very own Maia made the team! Go Maia!

All of the teams then gathered up around campus for their last team meetings. White Noise’s meeting was full of heartfelt speeches and lots of signing of discs and hats. I now have a coaching hat that will last me a long, long while. By a little after 2:30, campers started getting picked up. I traded my first jersey in a long, long while to obtain a Team Israel jersey which I am currently wearing. Lots of hugs and goodbyes later, all the kids were on their way home.

Given the whirl-wind nature of camp, the transition to post-camp tasks was almost immediate. About 45 minutes after the last camper left I found myself, along with several other Camp UP people, picking up a rental car. I had a great time driving it back to Manof where right after I got back we all packed up and went to the beach. On the sand and rocky beach, the staff had a wonderful time being social, playing games, and swimming. We ate Falafel, enjoyed being amongst our UP family, and wished the evening would never end.

We’re now all back at the Manof the exodus of staff has begun. David and his family has taken off, and so have several other coaches. Tomorrow, many of us head out for community visits, and then on Saturday we’re going rafting.

Good, good times.

Summer Camp Day 4

Yesterday was another whirlwind of activity, starting bright an early in the dining hall with our 7:30am breakfast. Shortly after 8am the boys teams climbed onto two buses and drove to the Eilot field location and the girls gathered up in the Manof courtyard for a short announcement. 10 minutes later the girls walked over to the fields and began warming up for the tournament!

My girls played four consecutive games and did very well! The games were 35 minutes long and stopped immediately when the horn was blown. (Hard cap can result in really long last points.) Overall White Noise went 1-2-1, scoring in all of the games, something other one other team managed to do. The girls did very well at moving the disc quickly down the field and throwing crisp passes to open team members as soon as they became open. By the end of our games at 11:45 my girls were tired but quite happy.

Next we moved back to the Manof courtyard where we played some more social games before lunch. After lunch White Noise piled into one of the buses and went to the pool for a great hour of cooling off. I had a great time swimming around in the deep end with my team. See the disc fly around the crowded pool was pretty entertaining! After a round of popsicles, we bussed back up and got back to Manof where we had an hour and a half of free choice time. I ended up folding more cranes and talking with more players.

At 5pm campers started gathering back up in the center of Manof. About 30 minutes later the last round of the boys tournament was held on the main fields, and the girls teams had some great social time around campus. I helped some players and CITs with their throwing form, and took some time out to swing on one of the large swinging chairs with some of my team members. Things got a little sad around this time with the first departure of a coach — Julie. We didn’t want her to leave but we’re sure we’ll see her again! By a little before 7 the ourdoor BBQ began and everyone had a great time eating together in the central area of the Manof.

At a little after 8pm the most amazing talent show in UP began. The MCs — Jez, Zolo, and JMaz did a wonderful job gluing the whole evening together and the talent on stage was phenomenally entertaining and plentiful. Coaches, CITs, and players danced, sang, did fun tricks, and had a great time showing off some of the things they do best. It was quite the evening. Video of the whole evening will be online soon. In the meantime, you can check out a short clip of me folding an Ultimate Peace crane behind my back while telling a story about my life:

The talent show ran until around 10:20, at which point the campers were sent straight to their rooms to start the (longish) process of geting to sleep. The staff had a good round of fun social time in the Moadon common room, and by a relatively early hour I made it to sleep.

One more half day left until the campers leave. It’s staggering how fast the days have gone.