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.

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!