Due to the extreme generosity of 54 donors, Caleb was able to surpass his goal and raise $3,394 for Ultimate Peace! Joined with the $2,523 that was donated in my name, Caleb and I were able to raise $5,917 for Ultimate Peace! We could not be more honored to receive such overwhelming support. It’s truly staggering.
Caleb and I began our journey to the Middle East on July 1st with a trip to the US Open in Rhode Island. While there I participated in the USA Ultimate summer board meeting, and Caleb and I watched lots and lots of incredible Ultimate. On July 4th we drove up to Boston for some family time and then the next afternoon departed from Boston on our flight for the Middle East!
Over the past 5 days we have:
Explored the West Bank in and around Bethlehem and Beit Sahour while spending two days living with Ben Spears. We got to see Shepherd’s Field, the Church of the Nativity, downtown Bethlehem, the Azzeh refugee camp, as well as take in some world class soccer with a bunch of locals.
Traversed The Old City of Jerusalem while staying at the Hotel Hashimi in the center of the Muslim Quarter. While in the city we folded cranes at the Western Wall, walked around the Dome of the Rock and ramparts around the city, took in the view from the roof of the Austrian Hospice, toured the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, went on the Western Wall Tunnel Tour, ate Knafeh, and otherwise soaked in as much of the surrounding atmosphere as we could.
Joined in on an incredible Ultimate Peace Community Visit that brought together players from Tuba and Yesod. On the drive up to the north, we stopped at Mt. Beatitudes, Capernaum, and the Church of Multiplication. At the Community Visit we had a phenomenal time playing and otherwise being goofballs with an absolutely joyous group of kids, almost all of whom will be at Camp UP next week!
You can view some video of the community visit right here. Photos are online here.
While we are traveling, Caleb and I will be uploading photos to this gallery.
Once again, thank you all so much for your incredible support!
Camp Ultimate Peace 2015 is off to an incredible start! We’re now two days into camp and we’ve fully hit our stride with teams, campers, coaches, and CITs fully in sync with each other. Four new blog posts have just come online that outline what we’ve been up to:
6-year Ultimate Peace veteran Dani Glass perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to live through the awesomeness of staff training in “Something from Nothing“.
Dani Glass continues describing her beautiful UP story, this time talking about the simple power of simple truth in “UP Family“.
Coach Kelsie Brust talks about her first 24 hours working with her 2015 Camp Ultimate Peace team in “Off to a Good Start“.
Ultimate Peace Camp 2014 is flying along in a torrent of absolute awesomeness. There have been challenges, and many hours of work, but the kids are having a blast and so are the coaches. I am hoping to have a detailed blog post up in the next few days. Until then, you can check out tons of what’s been going on in these places: UP Blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.
You can also check out my FB photo stream right here.
Our third game of the day came to a close with the other team, the Sky Diamonds, scoring the last goal, to close the gap to 6-4. My girls were pumped to win all three of their pool play games and make it to the finals. As both teams grouped up in the middle of the field, one of the girls on the other team ran up to her coach saying “One more point! I want one more point!”. Her coach, who captained the same college team as I did, replied, “Nope, sorry, the game is over”. She tried again with the same plea, wanting ever so much to keep playing. Same reply from Jeff. She aquiesed and 30 seconds later we were in the spirit circle.
These kids are all about spirit and playing hard. What a perfect combination.
After morning coffee, Get UP! printing, and meeting the girls in the quad, we were all at breakfast for the normal round of cheers and table stomping. Shortly after, we were all in the auditorium for morning announcements. The boys then bussed up for Tamra and the six girls teams headed out to the fields for their first tournament games.
Coffee… aka, UP fuel
Out on the field, my girls ran through their standard warmup and then ended up winning 5-4 over a strong white team. They then followed it up with a convincing 5-2 win over Evergreen. In the third game of the day we went up against another undefeated team, Royal Blue (Sky Diamonds), and in a game filled with long throws and agressive defense, we pulled of a 6-4 win to end 3-0 on the day. As the only undefeated team we made it to the finals… against the team we played last. So, tomorrow morning, we play Sky Diamonds for the title.
Maroon 5 after going 3-0!
After 30 minutes of free time, we went off to lunch and then followed that up with 3 hours of afternoon activity time which was split between on-campus games and pool time. I ended up working on media and coaching materials, but the girls had a blast at the pool. By shortly before 5pm we were all back at the big tree, grouping up for evening practices. 4 of the girls teams and all of the boys teams ended up figuring out some smaller fields to play some last round consolation games on. My Maroon gals and I ended up in front of the dining hall for a really fun practice. We worked on tough marking drills and talked strategy for tomorrow. We also had a great time working through a catching drill which involved the girls catching tough throws, and then having them all throw discs as hard as they could at me… which was followed up by having some of the coaches and male players huck the disc at me from 15 yards… and I caught almost all of them! Hooray for still being able to do a useful thing on the Ultimate field…. catch! :)
A pre-practice moment
Practice ended a bit early to allow for kids to practice for the talent show! I headed back to the Mohodoun to gather up the gear I’d need for my act. I then went over to the auditorium to get it all set up, and quickly to snag dinner at the adjacent dining hall. Shortly after dinner, everyone was setting up for their acts and by 8 the show began. What a show it was! There was magic, singing, dancing, beat boxing, crane folding, and LOTS of other acts.
By 10:10 the show was done and all the kids were sent off to sleep. The staff grouped up around and in the Mohodoun and got to work on camper evals. They ended up cranking them out rather quickly and then everyone enjoyed some much needed and appreciated social time. We do have about a day together after camp ends tomorrow, but that’s not nearly enough time. We want more. So, we’ll be back next summer.
Tomorrow we have the tournament final games and then we say goodbye. Afterwards it’s beach time for the staff.
It’s so hard to imagine Camp UP 2013 is about to end.
One of the challenges to camp is that it’s too short. Even with the extra day that’s been added since last year, it just doesn’t seem like 5 days is enough time to truly be able to build a team, to be able to see a true growth in skill. At least that’s what it seems like until you experience a few days at Camp Ultimate Peace. These kids just keep bringing it. They run hard, ask for more instruction, cheer like crazy, and focus on simply, being awesome. I think the key to it all is that the kids are completely free to be whomever they truly are, with adults who are goofy and crazy and weird, all along with a hundred other kids who are just like them in their desire to have fun. Because they never have to worry about only presenting a part of themselves, the kids are able to put their complete selves into working on whatever they’d like on and off the field. Devoting your full self to UP is something we ask of all UP staff members, and it’s all the more easy to accomplish because the kids are so dang good at it.
Simultaneous, full devotion from 185 people is a powerful force. With that force all around us, anything is possible in 5 days.
Morning in Mohodoun was much like the late night — Sarah was working on the evening activity for tonight and coffee was being served. With the printer continuing its streak of being cooperative, I managed to print off the necessary copies of the day’s issue of Get UP! and get out to our team’s meeting point by 7:55. Shortly after, all the girls had made it out to the rally point, although we are still working on being completely on time. Ah, the internal time clock teenagers! It was clear from the walk over that everyone was excited for the day, but still a bit tired.
Goooood mornign Gabe!
Breakfast was the standard round of total full-force spirit cheers and cornflakes. It’s quite impressive that such amazing behavior is now “normal” at Camp UP. That in itself is impressive. My girls were getting to be fully awake by the time we moved into the auditorium for morning announcements. The highlight of the morning was naming all the spirit award winners for each team. Yesterday, Mona won our team’s award. Today it was Lior’s turn to be recognized.
Summer Camp 2013 spirit award winners of the day!
The morning announcements meeting finished with 1/3 of the teams heading out onto the green in front of the dining hall to start their time at the CIT activity stations, while the other two-third of the teams heading out to the fields for practice. Our shift wasn’t until last, so we had 2-hours of practice to kick off the morning. On the way over to the field, check out what we saw!
Out on the field team Maroon 5 warmed up, threw, played some Wah!, Ninja, and Look Up Look Down, and ran through some drills before ending with a short scrimmage against the blue team. At this point we knew some of a basic stack and were able to put out new knowledge into play. The girls managed to cut to the right side, complete a bunch of passes, and play hard D. Both teams ended up scoring a few goals and having a GREAT time! We wrapped with a line of high-fives and then we moved back to the other side of campus to start out shift at the CIT activity stations!
The girls had a fantastic time at the five stations. They started with an intro to the activity from Pirate King Jez who explained they would be trying to recover his treasure.
They started with throwing discs at balloons to knock them off of string or pop them. Next, they had to fish baskets or treasure out of a pond which contained a live (human) crocodile. At the third station they had to fish candy our of bowls filled with flower and hunt for more coins in a dark room. Next, they “navigated” a river course and then finished up with a mad dash through a course filled with very funny people trying to get them to laugh out the water they were carrying in the mouths. Massive kudos to the CITs for creating such great stations, and especially CIT Yonathan for being such an active boisterous activity leader!
CIT induced camper bonding at its absolute best
With the great music permeating the air, we moved across the dining hall quad and inside to eat lunch. With the whole camp pumped up from the CIT activities, lunch was even more loud than yesterday. Afterwards, made it back into the auditorium with a slight detour made by the last 1/3 of the teams who worked their way through the CIT stations, so that they could get their final prizes. 15 minutes later with everyone in the auditorium, David made a very-well received announcement that everyone was going to stay in the auditorium to watch Despicable Me. 10 minutes into the movie half the kids were laughing along with the movie, and the other half were asleep. Not all of the staff were needed to cover the auditorium, so many got some rest.
After the movie and a round of outside free time activities, the kids grouped up in the quad to head out to practices. We converged in the far left corner of the field and after our standard warm up routine, I worked the girls through a stack position drill. They now seem to have a pretty good idea of where to setup in the stack! We moved through different cutting patterns and the girls showed great improvement on where to be and how to complete tough catches. We finished up practice with an extended button-hook cutting drill that I added a continuation pass to. The girls really got it down by the end. With the sun heading towards the horizon and warm breeze cooling us down, we ended practice with a very strong Ebo Lay Lay cheer. Go Maroon 5!
Everyone then had about 30 minutes of free time before dinner which most of the campers spent getting cleaned up. Out on the quad, people socialized and enjoyed each other’s company while waiting for everyone on each team to show up before walking over to the dining hall.
Zolo and Mais
Dinner was packed with its usual crazy level of spirited cheering. My girls got up and started their own cheer, which uses a Maroon 5 song for the chorus — Instead of “Moves like Jagger”, they say “Throws like Brodie”. It’s pretty dang adorable :) After dinner the whole camp packed back into the auditorium for announcements. The first year CITs were recognized for their work putting together and running the morning activity, and then everyone was sent out to participate in the evening activity.
First year CIT awesomeness!
As the evening activity ran its course and was capped off with an amazing dance circle and signing of the camp song, I worked on media here in the Mohodoun. While listening to my work playlist, the staff came pouring back in and as has been the case every night here at Manof, I was treated to a happy vista of smiling faces. Tired faces, but enormously happy. As David said in our staff meeting, it was a tough day — lots of emotion, intensity, competition, and spirit — but it was so enormously enjoyable. I just got back to my media station after running the nights’ head coaches meeting and I’m pumped for tomorrow. The heads group is just plain ridiculously awesome. Yah, I know I overuse that word, but it’s been entirely applicable every time I’ve put it into play these two past weeks, especially so about the head coaches that have worked here at Camp Ultimate Peace this summer. They bring so much to the table and I’m going to sorely miss our freeform nightly conversations.
Alex just came by to say tomorrow’s issue of Get UP! has been completed, which means tonight might be the earliest we have wrapped up the media coverage. Sleep before midnight? It’ll sure help for all the activity is lined up for us tomorrow: the tournament and the talent show!