Haifa and Rest

On Monday morning I enjoyed being able to sleep in. Having my own room, especially one with fantastic air conditioning is wonderful. After hitting my snooze button a few too many times, I got cleaned up and then went downstairs to forage for breakfast.

I ended up hanging out in the main office administrative area with Zolo and Tomer for a few hours, learning about camp and having a great time bring around the energy that is the Zolo-Tomer connection. Maggie, Zolo, and Nathan took care of putting up banners, and then at around noon Tomer drove is to the train station where Maggie, Nathan, and I took the short ride south to the Haifa.

Out in the bright sun of Haifa I was reminded of being in Nice. We walked west, soaking in the rays and dodging some startlingly unlabeled construction areas. We passed the Maritime museum, and made out way up several flights of stairs to Elijah’s cave. There we found another beautiful vista and many people lounging in the shade eating lunch. Inside, the cave has very straight, milled-looking, sides, and a partition to separate men from women.

Next, we walked back down the flights of stairs, manuevered across some large roads, and found our way to the base of the small gondola that we took to the top of Mt. Carmel. The ride up was quick and along the way we were afforded another spectacular view of the coast line. At the top, we found a small pavilion that had a short audio recording built in that told us about the region. After listening for a while, we turned around the street and began waking further up the mountain towards the Bahai Gardens. Along the way we passed many gorgeous houses and absolutely perfect views. We imagined they cost about 10-20nis a piece :)

We finally made it to the gardens only to find that you can’t walk through each level without being on a tour, and the last tour had left an hour earlier. Regardless, we did get to walk around the upper level, which was quite beautiful. On the way out we got information on how to take the bus to the lower level of the mountain, and soon made our way to the German Colony area, way at the bottom of the gardens. On the street we found a very nice restaurant (Fattoush) and dove into a round of Sharwarma. We ate a leisurely pace and relaxed as the sun went lower on the skyline. Next, we made our way to the nearest train station, scooted back north to Acco, and then took a taxi back to Manof where we found that Bob and Linda had arrived.

A couple hours, everyone headed out to the old city of Acco for dinner, so naturally, Maggie, Nathan, and I had to join them. We ended up having dinner (the second one for some of us) at a spot overlooking the bay. It was a wonderful vista and the social time was grand.

Tuesday was a day of rest. We spent the day walking the grounds, and working on various camp prep tasks. Later in the day Maggie and I explored the very large farm area of Manof and saw many chickens, goats, sheep, other birds, dogs, and horses. They have quite the facility here! Later in the night, Zolo, Tomer, Bob, Linda, Maggie, Nathan, Karym, and I gathered for a pizza dinner, enjoying the last calm evening before the true storm.

At least 12 more staff members are making it into Acco today, with the largest wave coming in tomorrow. All the prep work is going well and everyone is excited for camp to begin!

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!

Ultimate in the West Bank

In addition to the unreal experience of working at both Camp UP sessions this summer, I am going to be arriving two weeks early in order to help out at several clinics Ultimate Peace is running in a few communities in the West Bank. The sessions are currently planned to run in the West Bank communities of Bet Sahor, Bet Lehem & Jericho. I can’t wait!

Here’s a map of the locations I’ll be working in and traveling to during the summer:

View Ultimate Josh 2012 in a larger map

Ultimate Peace CIT: Ava Schein!

Another reason I am so excited to head to Camp UP this summer is that St. Johnsbury Academy student and Ultimate player Ava Schein will also be making the trip! She will be working at the second session as a Counselor in Training. According to Rona Yaniv, the Director of the Ultimate Peace CIT program:

“The CIT Program is a multi-year program that aims to develop young leadership in the world of Ultimate Peace and beyond. In accordance with the UP values, we believe that the way we play is similar to the way we lead our lives, hence our goal is to instill and develop communication and social skills,  mutual understanding and respect and openness and acceptance towards others while developing personal responsibility, core values and leadership.”

Ava is perfect for the program and is going to do a wonderful job! I am thrilled to be working with her! You can read much more about the UP CIT program in this extensive blog post.

Additionally, Ava has centered her St. Johnsbury Academy senior Capstone project on Ultimate Peace. She has raised awareness of the program and has been raising funds all year to send two campers to Camp UP. One of her big fundraisers will be a large dance at St. Johnsbury Academy on the night before the 2012 St. Johnsbury Invite. Go Ava!


I’m heading to Israel!

This summer I will be participating in a grand adventure to Israel. Here is the email I just sent out to my community:


Hello Friends and Family,

This summer I am spectacularly excited to be traveling to Israel to work at CampUP, a youth Ultimate camp run by a phenomenally amazing organization called Ultimate Peace.

For those of you that like things short and sweet, here’s the outline of what’s going on:

– This summer I’ll be in Israel from June 26th to July 16th, working with Ultimate Peace at two consecutive 5-day overnight camps for Arab, Jewish, and Palestinian youths.

– You can find details in the attached document or online at: www.ultimatepeace.org/ultimate-peace-events/.

– Ultimate Peace operates fully by donations, and each coach is responsible for raising substantial funds to make the camps happen.

– Please consider supporting us at www.ultimatepeace.org/donate/. If you do make a donation on my behalf, please put down my name on the online donation form where it says “in support of”. Donations are tax deductible.

– Every last little bit helps, even if it is to just spread the word!

– I will be blogging about all of my Ultimate Peace experiences at www.UltimateJosh.com.

If you are up for the long version, or want to know why I’m taking the uncomfortable step of asking for money, please read below.

Hope all is well,

– Josh

Long version:

I grew up on a farm in North Leverett, MA, a very special small town of less than 2,000 people located 15 miles north of Amherst. In the hill town I called home, I learned to appreciate being away from it all, but as the same time I was pushed by my parents to connect with the greater world in diverse ways. I was encourages to follow my bliss and to try strange new things. By the time I graduated from high school, I had certainly found my share of exhilarating endeavors: I had spent years studying Mandarin Chinese, decided to travel 3,000 miles to college, fallen in love with mathematics, and found Ultimate.

Twenty years later my Mandarin is passably decent, I am addicted to international travel, I spend the bulk of my days teaching high school mathematics, and I am utterly in love with Ultimate.

In my journey from Leverett and Amherst, to Claremont, CA, and then to my current home of St. Johnsbury, VT, Ultimate has always been brightly present. I have played, coached, administrated, proselytized, traveled, and spectated. I have loved every minute of my Ultimate life. Additionally, for the past three years I have watched from afar as Ultimate Peace has taken off, always wanting to join in myself. This June I will no longer be observing from a distance. I will be traveling to Acco, Israel to work as a camp counselor at Camp Ultimate Peace.

The vision of Ultimate Peace (www.UltimatePeace.org) is to build bridges of friendship and understanding between youth from different social and cultural backgrounds around the world. We focus on fun and education, not politics, using the character building sport of Ultimate Frisbee as our tool. Ultimate is a competitive sport, yet is self officiated and thus promotes conflict-resolution, skill building, and open communication. Ultimate rewards good sportsmanship and instills a strong sense of personal responsibility and teamwork.

2009 was the inaugural year for Ultimate Peace and it was a huge success. A group of American Ultimate players and coaches travelled to the Middle East and hosted a series of clinics for local youth – Palestinian, Israeli Jewish and Arab, together – to introduce them to the sport of Ultimate and the respect between players that’s inherent in the sport.  The kids learned, they played together, they self-officiated and at the end of the day they truly were excited about getting to play more in the months to come. In 2010, Ultimate Peace returned in larger numbers and with a bigger and better program. We hosted a 4 day-long overnight camp for 130 kids, as well as sessions for local coaches, and visits to the home towns of the campers. 2011 was another smash hit. 175 campers and a staff of over 60 came together for an 8-day residential camp. The 12 multi-cultural boys and girls teams that were formed, made up of Palestinians, Israeli Jews, and Arab Israelis, practiced, ate, and competed side-by-side every day. Not only did the kids learn to play Ultimate, they also experienced a cultural exchange through arts and crafts, dance, and games, a talent show, and just over a week of living with their fellow campers.

2012 is going to be even more exciting. Two 5-day residential sessions will be run, the first being a new training camp for more experienced players, and the second a continuation of the highly successful summer camp program. Both sessions will have all the usual features of the Camp UP program: cultural sharing, non-Ultimate social activities, community-building, and an assortment of activities and classes. They will also focus heavily on learning and practicing the 5 values of UP: mutual respect, integrity, friendship, non-violence, and fun.

You can learn more about Ultimate Peace at the following links:
Homepage: www.UltimatePeace.org
Ultimate Peace Flyer: Right Here
UP Facebook page: www.facebook.com/UltimatePeace
2010 UP Slideshow video: http://youtu.be/ZKEWGF2DtaU
2012 UP Promo video: http://youtu.be/09dRzlLZUYs

I am so over the top thrilled to be joining Ultimate Peace this summer because it represents everything I love about Ultimate, all in one place. It’s the joy of sport combined with spirited play above all else, centered around an excited, receptive, and diverse population of youth. While I have absolutely adored my many years of playing Ultimate, coaching is now what I love to do most above all else in the world of Ultimate. I absolutely cannot wait to work with the kids at Ultimate Peace.

Some important things for you to know is that everyone that works at Ultimate Peace is a volunteer and that this summer the two campus have a budget of around $200,000. The money I am raising will enable me to cover at least some of my summer costs, as well as to help fund the camp. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated. In addition to monetary donation, other in-kind donations are welcome too such as travel miles, energy bars, shade tends, hats, cleats, discs, and schwag for campers.

Ultimate Peace is hugely reliant on the support of family and friends. We are currently in the midst of a major fundraising effort. I know this is a hard time financially, but if you are able, please join this peace through sport initiative and donate whatever you can at:


Donations are tax-deductible and can be made online or by check. If you do make a donation on my behalf, please put down my name on the online donation form where it says “in support of”, or in the memo field of your check.

I’d be happy to talk to anyone about this endeavor on the phone, via email, or in person. If you know of anyone who might be interested in, or moved by this, please feel free to put them in touch with me or share this email with them. I’ve also attached an easily sharable one page summary with more details.

Thank you so much for considering this and for supporting me – financially or otherwise – in what I do.

– Josh