Summer Camp Days 2 and 3

It’s been a blur of phenomenal energy here at the Manof. We’ve played lots of Ultimate, had many spirit circles, and had so much fun together on and off the field. Over the past two days we’ve had four practices, a couple of scrimmages, and several hours of team bonding time. This time around I’m coaching a girls team and I’m having lots of fun. On Monday we spent lots of time getting to know each other and playing silly games. I have three assistant coaches and 3 CITs along with 12 campers, so the coaching staff to camper ratio is great! Also, one of my CITs is Ava Schein, so I’m super happy! My three assistant coaches are Chelsea (local American transplant to Israel), Wanda (Hong Kong), and Julie (Nebraska). Our team color is White and our team name is White Noise!

At our first practice we found that the girls were all quite good at catching. We focused on several key drills including the button-hook drill, a cutting order drill, and a mini-layout drill. As expected, my CITs acted like rockstars helping to teach the girls various skills as well as translating all of my instructions. It’s a little tough to get used to the pacing of coaching with a translator, but after a little while it’s not that difficult. In a way, I think it helps me be a better coach by helping me to focus on only truly important items.

On Tuesday we moved through a continuation of more drills, mixing in a scrimmage with team Brown. The girls played well and I was really happy with how they looked to move the disc down the field without stopping. Tuesday morning was also a bunch of fun because the CITs ran an all-camp activity which included lots of cool games. The highlight of which was definitely finding lots of tennis balls inside a big room of foam!

On Tuesday night the camp came together to watch the CITs vs. Coaches game. While the crowd was definitely in favor of the CITs, the coaches cleaned up 9-2 on lots of crisp passes and dominating defense. That being said, the two goals scored by the CITs were strong goals and they did have a couple other chances to score.

Each night has been notable for the vortex of energy out on the fields for the hour of free time the kids enjoy right before heading to their dorms. The kids play games all over the field, music is played, and it all ends with one huge spirit circle. It really is something special.

This whole place is something special.

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!

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!

Training Camp Day 4

The first ever UP training camp has come to a beautiful close. All the kids are on their way home and the staff is unwinding with an evening at the beach. All is well in Acco.

The morning began with another great breakfast followed by a meeting in the auditorium where David ran through the plan for the day. Soon after the whole camp was out on the fields getting ready for the campers vs. coaches game! Two simultaneous games were played with all the campers subbing into both games. Despite David’s assertion that the camper’s wouldn’t score, the campers pulled through and managed to score first in one of the games. With music playing and some great sideline cheer support, the games flew on with an amazing array of skill.

After the games came to a close, the Blue and Yellow boys teams got to warming up for their finals game, a rematch of the last pool play game from yesterday. They game was close the whole way and particularly notables for its high level of play. Yellow even managed to pull off a fantastic greatest play that led to a goal two passes later. In the end, Blue prevailed on a long huck after a very long point.

Next up, the Evergreen girls took on team Mudslide. With the wind picking up, Mudslide came out with a 5-0 lead, but Everygreen fought back to 5-3, before falling a couple points lates 7-5. In addition to the high level of play on the field, Jolian kept things quite lively on the sideline with his announcer antics.

Everyone then moved into cleanup and packing mode. The kids did a good job at cleaning their rooms and soon we were all grouped in the dining hall enjoying our last lunch together. My team, Nutella, broke out our amazingly spectacular three part table cheer, and soon the whole place was lit up with cheers coming from all the other teams. We got further into the action by doing the cheer of girls champs, and sister team, Mudslide. After lunch, every moved back into the auditorium for the closing ceremonies. David spoke well on the ethos of the camp, what Ultimate Peace means, and then moved into the team spirit/MVP awards. We sang the camp song, David got the admin team on stage, and then all the teams went out into the Manof for their last team meetings.

Team Nutella grouped up at our tree and first went around the circle talking about highlights of the week. The kids spoke beautifully. One of our players gave out a special jersey he had brought to his pick for MVP, Asan. Then each coach spoke, and Adam gave out a jersey to the most improved player, Bebosh. Last, we cheered, did a group picture, and then gave out the Ultimate Peace discs. The kids took turns signing each other’s disc, and saying goodbye. Over at the gates the kids found their rides and headed home. It was hard to say goodbye.

After all the kids were on the road home, the whole staff met in the Mohadone break room and David led a feedback session for a little over an hour. We talked about high points and things that could improve. At about 5:15 the meeting broke and we all prepped quickly for a trip to the beach!

A short taxi bus ride later, the whole staff was on the Acco beach enjoying the sunset and the company of friends. We had a fantastic time as the sun went down.

We’re now all back on campus. Tomorrow we all head out to go rafting on the Jordan River, which will be followed by a tour of the Golan Heights. We can’t wait. We then have a free day… and then Summer Camp begins!

The time is flying by.

Training Camp Day 2

I’ve been getting better at obeying my alarm, so I managed to get all my media work done before heading to breakfast with my roommate, Abe. Grouped up at our table, my team — now names “Nutella” — enjoyed a round of pancakes. Everyone was then moved into the auditorium for announcements before team practices began.

My team had an hour of team time off the field which we filled with WA!, Look up look down, the marking drill, layout drills from our knees, and other social interactions. Several of my players were interviewed by Rachael, Maggie, and Nathan. At 10:30 we grouped up in the middle of campus for snack, and then moved to the field for practice. Adam kicked things off with running warm ups and then I transitioned the team into our standard go-to drill, followed by a vertical stack cutting drill. The kids moved through the drills very well. For the last 30 minutes of the session we scrimmaged team Yellow. We scored first and had some amazing flow on our way to going up 4-1. Yellow scored the last two goals before we had to break for lunch. We payed very well and are super excited for the start of the tournament tomorrow. We finished practice with another one of our utterly amazing cheers and then the kids went off to get cleaned up and ready for lunch.

By 1pm we were back in the dining hall, eating a large lunch of falafel, schwarma, and several other options. I’m a big fan of the local hot-sauce chilly paste. Good stuff. Once again, the dining hall was filled with several rounds of team cheers as we all ate. Next, we all transitioned to the auditorium where we found out about all of the various free time options. In addition to a large pool trip, the kids who stayed on campus could use the slip and slide, watch Ultimate videos, play disc golf, play badminton, or participate in a bunch of other activities.

By 4:30 the kids were grouping up in the middle of campus for evening practices. My team made it out the fields and after a short warm up, we moved through go-to and the cutting timing drill from the morning session. A few of the other staff members joined in and everyone had a great time mastering the timing on their cuts as well as their long throws. We ended on another solid cheers and moved back to our spot in the center of campus for some team social time. We ran through some more social games, and then joined up with team pink for a round of WA! Back over at our standard tree meeting spot, we worked through a new table cheer to break out at dinner.

By 7pm we were at dinner and 20 minutes in we unleashed a perfect, 3 section table cheer. Go us! After getting out fill of food, all of the kids moved into the auditorium for some video clips while the staff met outside to over the plans for the Camp Olympics. By about 8:30pm the kids were spread around the main field participating in 8 different games. A massive amount of fun was had.

The night is now winding down with kids playing in the central area of campus while other watch the Eurocup2012 finals. Everyone is excited for the start of the tournament tomorrow. Time to sleep.

Training and the beginning of camp!

On Friday we had a full day of staff training. In the morning Liz had us out on the field running through a series of drill lessons. We all left well equipped to run a wide range of drills and dynamic stretches.

David then ran another round of staff orientation in the big auditorium, which was followed by some time for the coaching teams to meet. After having our last staff-only lunch, most of the staff took off to a nearby pool. I stayed back at the Manof to work on some media and to rest. When everyone returned, we spent some more time working on task team items. I spent the hour pulling together video clips for the post-dinner Ultimate video shows for the kids. We then transitioned to the auditorium where David had put together a panel consisting of Sarah, Karym, Hammouda, and Dan — a full spectrum of the people represented on the staff of Ultimate Peace 2012.

The panel lasted about an hour and a half and was incredibly poignant. Each panelist spoke about very personal views and everyone in the audience learned many new things about the region. A wonderful writeup of the panel is online right here in the official UP blog. It’s well worth the read.

The panel was followed by dinner and the last round of time for the coaching teams to meet to plan for the incoming hoard of kids! I had a great time working with my assistant coaches Adam, Ofek, and Gabe on what we wanted to work through during our 7 hours of time with the kids on Saturday. The evening was made more entertaining by the fact that my voice had decided to retreat meaning I could barely speak past a whisper. Still, we got lots done and I went to sleep feeling well prepared for Saturday.

After breakfast on Saturday morning, the whole staff met in the auditorium to practice the camp song and to go over any last minute questions. Everyone was then sent off to work on last minute tasks to get fully prepped for the incoming wave of kids.

Over by the entrance gate the welcoming group practiced running up the ramp to “Eye of the Tiger”. Tables got setup in front of the Barak building for registration. Equipment was moved around partitioned for the afternoon. At a little after 10am the first group of kids arrived! The staff greeting could be heard all over the Manof! I spent the morning moving between stations and helping get the round working in the auditorium. I had a great time moving through the central area of campus talking to kids as they relaxed and connected with old friends.

At around 12:30 the kids moved to the auditorium to watch about 20 minutes of high level youth Ultimate on the big screen. Just before 1pm the bus from the West Bank arrived meaning everyone had made it to camp! David then moved through the camp welcome talking about the meaning of Ultimate Peace, why everyone was here, as well as a myriad of introductions. Then, each of the 8 camp teams were read aloud and the teams gathered together for the first time! Everyone then moved in groups by teams into the dining hall where we all started to get to know each other. I learned a bunch of names and about the playing experience of several kids.

After lunch we moved back into the auditorium where David led the group through camp orientation. He went over important rules, the schedule for the day, and we sang the camp song. Afterwards the teams spread out around campus in shady areas to work on team bonding. My team met up under a tree outside Barak dorm where we distributed shorts and jersey and helped the kids find spaces to change. The kids who came in on the West Bank bus joined us shortly after they had registered and we eventually had everyone looking great in their camp clothing!

We then moved through a series of games including two name games, WA, Ninja, and look up look down. Last, we sat down in a circle and each camper answered the question “Why are you here? What does Ultimate Peace mean to you?”. The answers were beautiful. By this time in the afternoon I had become accustomed to the translation periods needed between spoken words. One of my campers, Ali, acted as an amazing translator. After a great cheer of “Give me a B, R, O, W, N, what’s that spell? BROWN! What’s that mean? Family!” we moved out to the fields.

Coach Adam ran the kids through a solid dynamic warm up and then we transitioned into a couple focused throwing drills. Mixing in frequent water breaks, the kids managed to stay quite active in the hot sun. Ali continued his work as a great translator, and the coaches got to know each player. We have a fantastic group of skilled players! We then moved through some more active cutting drills including the button hook drill and a round of hot box. We then had about 15 minutes of down time before scrimmaging the light blue team. The kids played very well and showed some amazing patience with the disc. Our sideline was loud and everyone wanted to get into the 5 on 5 game!

After drills the kids migrated over to dinner where everything was MUCH more lively than at lunch. Tables of teams burst into cheers at random and pretty soon the whole room was very loud! I talked more with one of my assistants, Ofek, talked with lots of my kids, and learned from Maggie that her survey work is going well. The kids were then moved into the auditorium for 20 minutes of Ultimate videos while the staff had an evening meeting check in to go over the evening activities.

The staff then moved into positions and got ready for the release of the masses. I retreated to work on the daily Get UP! bulletin and work on not talking. Around 11pm I finished work and relatively soon after went to sleep.

Here are the first two “Get UP!” daily bulletins:

Get UP! – 6/30/12
Get UP! – 7/1/12

In a few minutes I’m heading off to breakfast. I can’t wait to meet with my kids and get the day moving!

Getting closer to game time

We’re now in full swing getting ready for the start of camp on Saturday. Everyone has arrived and we’re all in motion. We are so excited for the campers to arrive!

On Wednesday morning we worked through more camp setup tasks, and had a bunch of free time to explore. Maggie, Zolo, Nathan, and I walked the grounds and saw all of Manof, specifically looking for anything that needed to be fixed or worked on by the grounds crew. We found very few items that needed to be worked on. Later in the day, we checked the rooms in two dorms to make sure everything was set for the kids to arrive. Almost all the rooms were perfectly setup. In the late afternoon Maggie and I explored the large farm area adjacent to the fields. The farm contains at least 300 goats, 100 sheep, many birds, a whole kennel of dogs, and a bunch of horses. It’s quite the operation. By the early evening, many more coaches and CITs had arrived. I made a run to the train station with Abe and picked up three CIT/campers from Atlanta. Back at the Manof Nancy (Programs Director) was in full swing getting the schedule set up for Thursday. We all gathered for a nice Falafel dinner, which was followed by a group viewing of the Spain vs. Portugal Eurocup2012 semi finals. While people yelled and jumped while viewing the game, I folded. It was quite fun. After making a bunch of headway in creating a 60-piece star, I eventually crashed for the night.

This morning I woke up early and finished up the star before everyone headed over to the dining hall for breakfast. Our first big dining hall meal was then followed by the start of training and orientation. David led us through a history of the program, our purposes, what we’d be working on for the next couple days, as well as led us through some roll-play situations that may come up during camp. We then had lunch and another round of free time. During the free time slot, Abe, Liz, and I met to discuss coach training. After some more training led by David, we then met regathered in the large lounge in the main admin building where we signed up for task groups. I spent my time with the media communications group, coming up with a plan for daily media offerings. (More on that to come!)

After task groups we gathered back up in the auditorium where Liz, Abe, and I started the coaches training. We talked about Spirit, how coaches operate within Spirit of the Game, and then had the coaching pairs group up to work through several roll-play situations. The four groups did an excellent job of acting out each situation and how’d they’d intervene as a coach. We had a great time. The training went straight into dinner which was followed by more team task time. By 9pm we were all out on the fields where David led us through some fantastically entertaining team bonding exercises. After a bunch of hilarious games, we transitioned into a kind of “reverse capture the flag” game with discs, and then scrimmaged for a while.

We’re all quite excited after a very full day of getting to know each other and learning about everything that’s coming up very quickly! Tomorrow is full of more training and setup… and then the fun really kicks off when the campers arrive on Saturday morning!

Tel Aviv, Jericho, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, and Acco

It’s been a busy two days!

On Saturday I had a leisurely morning which included making my way to the coffee shop across the street to purchase an “American” sized cappuccino which I thoroughly enjoyed on my walk north to the Sportek. There I found the Israeli Juniors warming up and I had some time to catch up with them about their night.

Each of the three teams moved through more targeted skill drills and I helped out where I could. I gave some drill ideas to Dan, one of the girls’ coaches, and helped Yarden with the U-17 team, going over some zone defense tips with his group. I also got in to play in a some of the scrimmages and found that after the initial shock of playing in the heat, it wasn’t too bad. We ate lunch at the fields and the continued with more drills. Around 3pm the girls team started a scrimmage against some local club players and the game was quite fun to watch. The Junior girls played very well against a strong adult club mixed group. At around 4:30 I took off with Chelsea and Maggie and drove east to Ein Rafa to meet up with Karym.

At Karym’s, we switched to his car and ate some very yummy water melon on our ride to Jericho. On the way I snuck in a short nap and woke up refreshed for the clinic. In Jericho we found some very hot evening weather and 10 kids who were very ready to play. Chelsea led them through a great, very active clinic. She warmed them up and then had them work through a marking drill, cutting, and a go-to drill. I was very impressed by the skill level of the kids and how fast the new kids picked up the game. During some of the drills I talked with Karym and the local contact Farris about the town and region. I learned a great deal about their background and plans for the future. During the last drill the evening Call to Prayer echoed in the background. The clinic finished up with a lively cheer and lots of high fives.

Karym, Maggie, Julie, Chelsea, and I then drove the short distance to the round-about center of Jericho where Karym found us a place to eat dinner. Out on the second floor balcony of the place, we stuffed ourselves with Falafel and Shawarma, and finished up the meal with a round of Arabic coffee, a drink I am not quite accustomed to. Next, we drove west, crossed the checkpoint, and made it back to Karym’s place where Maggie and Chelsea took Chelsea’s car back to Tel Aviv.

Karym, Julie, and I then drove back east, first dropping Julie off at a friend’s house outside of Ein Rafa. Karym and I then passed back through the check point and a few blocks later found Hamouda, my host for the night! A short walk later into the Azzeh refugee camp, Hamouda and I arrived at his parents home where got comfortable in a living room area.

Over the next hour I met two of Hamouda’s brothers and one of his cousins, along with both his parents. I had a wonderful time talking to them all, relying heavily on Hamouda for translation. I learned that Azzeh is the smallest of the three refugee camps in Bethehem, with a population of about 2,000, and about the various complexities of living int he region. Hamouda’s mother showed me the weaving business she runs with other local women, and I learned about Hamouda’s father’s IT Directorship job. Eventually my energy waned and I slept. Well.

I woke up in the late morning on Sunday and after getting cleaned up a bit, Hamouda and I walked over to his family’s small Falafel business where we picked up breakfast. Next, we walked down the main street in Azzeh, and then a few more blocks to the Church of the Nativity. Hamouda gave me a tour side by side with the throngs of people visiting the area. Outside the Church I called home and talked to my mother a bit, hours before she had to preach. Fun stuff. Hamouda and I then walked up through more of the local Shuk area, then took a taxi to another area of Bethlehem where we saw another one of the checkpoints along with the entrance to the largest of the three refugee camps in Bethlehem, Dheisheh. Next, we took a bus back to Azzeh and walked a few blocks to the wall where I had the chance to see, up close, many of the murals. Right there in front of me was a large painting of “Love Wins”. Powerful stuff.

Back at Hamouda’s parent’s house, we both rested a bit before diving into a very large lunch made by his mother. The meal consisted of a pilaf rice cooked with chicken and rice pilaf, some vegitables, and a kind of fried meat dumplings. During lunch I talked more with Hamouda’s father Kamel and his mother Sauyed, as well as Hamouda’s sister. During lunch Kamel and Hamouda worked on paperwork for local children coming to Ultimate Peace Camp, as well as the logisitics of getting 8 Bethlehem kids along with Hamouda and myself to the evening clinic in Beit Sahour.

At around 5:15 we went out to the street and soon Kamel picked us up with his car. We then drove to the checkpoint where we met the small bus of UP Coaches coming in for the clinic. The bus then followed us to the Beit Sahour clinic location.

I started the clinic circling up the kids and some of the coaches to pass a disc back and forth while saying their own names. We mixed in a second disc and then transitioned to about 20 minutes of a turn the page cutting drill that the kids really got into. We added a swing pass after the catch, and then a double high five to the point where the kids were changing direction. After a water break, we transitioned into playing “It’s up!” which the kids absolutely loved. As the drill progressed, more and more kids joined in, and by the end of the clinic over 30 kids were running, catching, and in some cases diving!

We finished up in a circle where were did a “1-2-3 Beit Sahour Bethlehem!” cheer. Everyone left quite happy and very excited to play more Ultimate in the coming weeks! Al the coaches then piled back into the bus, passed the checkpoint, then unloaded at the Jerusalem bus station. About 20 minutes later we were on the 480 bus heading west back to Tel Aviv. At the Tel Aviv station, a group of coaches split off to go to Roy’s for the night, while Julie, Nathan, Maggie, and I walked back to Chelsea’s to pick up our stuff. After a short rest at Chelsea’s, which included getting a round of fantastic Calzones from a nearby shop, we got a taxi and drove back to the bus station, which is also a train station. There we got our tickets to Acco and boarded our train.

About an hour and 45 minutes later we were in Acco, where we were picked up by Zolo and Tomer, two of the local Ultimate Peace rock star administrators. A five minute drive later we made it to Manof, the site for the whole camp. After a bit of socializing in the main office, we all went to bed, excited for the days to come!

It’a now Monday morning and the plan for the day is to complete a few tasks around camp and then go swimming. Nathan, Maggie, and I are hoping to make it down to Haifa either today or tomorrow. The second group of coaches gets in tonight, with the bulk coming in tomorrow and Wednesday. It’s about to get quite busy here. In other news, I have gained the added responsibility of being on a team of 3 people who will work to run the pre-camp training for all the coaches. I can’t wait!

Israeli National Teams Practice – Day 1

I just had a fantastic full day surrounded by Israeli youth Ultimate!

My day began with me hitting the snooze button only 3 or 4 times, so I managed to get up early enough to do a bit of exploring of the shops around the apartment before the walk north to the Sportek fields. With a cappuccino in hand, and a bottle of seltzer packed away for later, I was set. I made it to the field by about 10:15 and started getting to know the Israeli National Juniors teams. For the first hour the teams worked through light throwing and paperwork tasks. (There are 17 players on the U-20 girls team, 17 on the U-17 open team, and 15 on the U-20 open team.) After dynamic warm ups the kids worked through some throwing drills. Next, the three teams worked on different skills. The girls worked on zone O and D, and the open teams worked on more throwing drills.

I had a great time walking around and helping out where I could. I talked to the girls about the right way to turn on cuts, and helped some of the U-17 boys with the form on their hammer throws. Some English was spoken during practice, but for the majority of the time everyone spoke Hebrew. I love seeing Ultimate played in non-English languages! At around 2pm Chelsea, Maggie, and I walked a bit south for lunch and had a round of wonderful hummus and pita. Before walking back I became side tracked with (another) cheese shop and bough a nice slice of a blue chevre.

Back at the fields the three teams were again split up and working on various drills. The U-20 open team did a half field horizontal stack drill, the girls worked on more defensive sets, and the U-17 team scrimmaged. Over the next several hours practice continued as the rest of the park filled up with many soccer games. Space became competitive and there were a few heated discussions about field space. (Unlimited fields in the ideal Ultimate world!) Towards the end of the session, the U-20 and U-17 teams scrimmaged on a large space between two rugby goal posts. The U-20 kids dominated, but the U-17 team was able to score a few times and had some really smooth, agressive motion with the disc.

At around 7pm all the kids were grouped up and we all walked west to the coast, and then south for a bit to an open, lit beach. While the kids played in the sand, one of the coaches went out to get lots of food. Maggie and I stayed around for a bit talking to Abe, and then began our walk home.

In 2006 I saw the first Israeli National Juniors team play at Worlds at Ft. Devens, in MA. The team was small and pretty good for a first year WJUC team. Now, six years later, Israel is sending three strong teams! It will be the first time at the event for the Israeli girls team, who came in 5th at the European Youth Champ last year. You can learn more about the World Junior Ultimate Championships right here.

In a couple hours I’m going to walk back to the Sportek fields to help out with the second day of practice. Then, later this afternoon we’re going to drive to Jerusalem to connect with Karym who is going to drive us to Jericho for a clinic.

Tel Aviv Coaching Clinic

This morning I awoke to more Tel Aviv city sounds, and a soft breeze coming through the large window of the apartment’s living room area where I am sleeping. It’s a great way to wake up. After my regular storm of email correspondance, I pulled more materials together for the coaching clinic. With all of the necessary PDFs loaded on a thumb drive, I found the nearby copy center and setup my copy job. By noon it was done and I was heading north to the Sportek fields.

Maggie, Nathan, and I found a shady spot near the central field area, and then moved over to the east end of the park after finding a better area with more shade and benches. By 1:45, 7 coaches had gathered so I got started. Over the course of the next 5 hours I ran through a general coaching clinic, covering topics ranging from “The Ideal Ultimate World” and Spirit of the Game, to drill suggestions, how to run an effective practice, and how to promote the sport. I had a wonderful time learning about Ultimate in Israel and cities around the US from the other coaches. We had some spirited discussions, and could have certainly gone on for much longer.

By about 6:30pm we packed up and walked a few blocks west to an American style pub where we had a great dinner and talked more about, what else, Ultimate. I got some more details about tomorrow’s Israeli Junior National Team training camp, which will actually run through Friday and all day Saturday as well. Dan one of the coaches, said I was more than welcome to attend it all, so I’m going to! I can’t wait.

So… I’m going to work with the Israeli Jrs for the next two days and then the plan is to take the train to Haifa on Sunday evening after a second clinic in Beit Sahour. After touring Haifa for a day or two, we’ll head up to Acco for the start of Camp UP!

Time is flying by!