True talent

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.

Flickr Photo Album – 7/7/13
YouTube Video – 7/7/13

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.

The pinnacle of the three C’s

As David always says, working at Camp UP is a marathon sprint. Days like this one make that statement a reality. Days like this one make sprinting the marathon oh so worth it. We have also been building momentum all week, and things have really hit a high today. As Nancy just said, tonight we hit a pinnacle with the three C’s — Collaboration, Communication, and Compassion. Oh, and camp sure has talent :)

Flickr Photos Album – 6/28/13
YouTube Video – 6/28/13

As always, David had coffee ready for the early risers who gathered in the Mohadoun to help wake up kids. He’s actually improved his coffee-making skills and had about 12 cups ready before I managed to take the first cup away. Nice.

UP fuel prepped by David

After another spirited breakfast and auditorium announcements meeting, I transitioned with my Pink Ladies out into the Manof field. We secured our far left tent, cleated up, warmed up, ran a Go To drill and then started our game against the Maroon Mamas. We went back and forth for a few points before going up 5-3 on the strength of our newly built zone defense skills. Maroon worked patiently through the zone, but we started connecting on more passes, pulling down the last goal to win 6-3. On the other field Royal closed out their game against Charcoal.

Pink cup!

Instead of moving to semis, or finals, the head coaches decided to pair up teams and play a game. The new teams, “Lady Shaka” and “Pink Storm” faced off in a strong game filled with lots and lots of skill, spirit, and competition. Zone was throw, deep shots were completed, and marks were broken. Even though the teams had come together from different coaching paths, they ended up complimenting each other quite well. Pink’s fast break cuts worked well with Royal’s strong handler set. Maroon’s strong catching ability worked very well with Charcoal’s strong arms. The girls were also much more energetic on the field as they were now able to play 7’s with subs.

Time to bring that disc down!

After the games finished, the kids plowed through lunch, auditorium announcements, and then moved off to afternoon activities. Most kids stayed on campus, but a fair number went to the pool. By 4:30 all the teams were gathering up in the quad and by 4:40 teams Pink and Royal were grouped up in the middle third of the Manof field for their combined practice. After warmups and Go-To, the girls were run through zone practice where they all played D against the coaches, and then the coaches played D against them. The whole process worked well and the girls seemed to really absorb and quickly apply everything they were taught.

Two hand catching in action!

In the 30 minutes between practice and dinner, I prepped the rest of my talent show act and got to dinner a bit early to have some time setting up in the auditorium. Everything set up as planned and then I enjoyed my first Shabbat dinner since last summer. Dinner ended around 7:40 and the kids were moved out into the quad for some chill time while a few talent show acts finished prepping. At 8 the show began, and what a show it was!

Amir and his bride!

There was singing, dancing, acting, and… everything in between and outside of those categories. The evening was grand.

Afterwards the staff met up for their nightly meeting, followed by a couple hours spent writing player evaluation. The coaching staff was also treated to a late-night pizza dinner, which made us all quite happy.

Tomorrow we wrap up with the tournament finals, coaches showcase game, and closing ceremonies. It’s truly stunning how fast time has traveled this week, and how much has happened.

A tournament, a pool, and a dear friend

It’s now around 11:20pm and the Mohadoun is alive with the sounds of socializing staff members. We all just returned from an amazing time at the first ever UP pool party. We played hard this morning in the first round of the tournament, then ate, dove, and danced at the pool — a perfect way to cap off a grand day. To top it all off we had a surprise from a friend we all hoped we’d get to see!

Flickr Photos Album – 6/27/13
YouTube Video – 6/27/13

As usual, my morning began with a health dose of coffee made by Director Barkan. Fully fueled for the morning, I headed off to the dining hall with the day’s issue of “Get UP!” in hand, as I had managed to print them out the night before. Team pink had a good time socializing at breakfast. We talked about the previous day and a bit about the schedule for the day.

Milk chocolate in a bag is so good!

Our on the field, after a short meeting in the auditorium, we warmed up and then worked through some more team-bonding activities involving bracelets. We then moved through a short Go-To drill and then our first tournament game began with our game against Royal Blue. We went up 2-0 off of some quick possessions, but then gave up 3 well-earned goals to go down 2-3. We then scored again to get us to half. We continued to have good disc movement in the second half, but couldn’t quite score and ended up losing 3-6. The game capped off with a spirit circle and each team voting on their choices for spirit MVP on the other team. Go Ruba!

Raz puts up a backhand around Areen’s strong mark

We then had some time to rest before playing our second game against Charcoal. We won the flip and pulled into what was a long first point. The girls kept up the long-game pressure, spacing out well into their horizontal stack formation. We went up 1-0, then took half 2-1. We figured out how to keep the disc moving close to the endzone and the girls ran hard through lots of long points. We ended up winning 4-3. Unfortunately, during the first part of the game, our primary handler, Gal, went down with a badly twister ankle. She ended up having to leave camp a couple hours to see a doctor. She’ll be fine, but she won’t be able to come back to camp. After the game, we all went to see her in the nurse’s office. We were definitely quite sad to see her go, but we gave her a great sendoff.

The Pink Ladies visit Gal

Tomorrow morning we play two more tournament games, then the tournament goes straight to 1v2 for the finals, and 3v4 for the, well, 3/4 game :)

Ruba gets a bit of help getting up. Watch out for this girl. She’s going to dominate. Correction. She already kinda dominates. And she’s 12!

After the games, the girls had a bit of free time before lunch began at 1pm. The usual table cheering ensued while everyone fueled up after an active morning. By 1:40 we were all in the auditorium where the kids were told about the various afternoon activities. I watched some Ultimate on the big screen in the auditorium before sneaking away for a short nap, which was fantastically helpful. Sleep is good? Yup.

By 4:30 the kids were beginning to meet up in the Quad to group up before their practices. No one was moving very quickly, and with the depleted numbers on my team and Maroon’s, we paired up for a zone-oriented practice. Practice ended up going very well. We threw, warmed up, and made some great headway introducing the zone. Most of the players had not see one before. It’s quite a thrill to be able to explain seriously important, brand new information to kids. Despite the heat, the girls ran hard and it seemed like they really took in what we presented and had them work through. It was also pretty surreal to practice next to a 100+ foot¬†Bougainvillea spread, with a Roman aquaduct in the background. A little after 6pm we finished up with a “Pink Ladies!” cheer, and then the girls had some time to go get ready for the pool party.

Cutting through the zone

At 6:30, Meredith and I along with a few other coaches and players started the group waiting to board the busses. About 30 minutes later the whole camp has been transported by bus to the nearby pool where we grouped up in teams to enter the area. Inside, as we were just sitting down with our teams in the grassy area next to the pool, I heard a happy shriek and saw a running girl go straight over to… Yasmeen! It was so, so happiness inducing to see Yasmeen! After a long string of hugs, the teams socialized for a bit before dinner began.

Linda and Yasmeen :)

After filling up on a great BBQ dinner, the kids socialized for a little while before the pool was opened. For the next 2 hours the kids swam, dove for discs, and danced. The weather was cool and the true spirit of UP was present in every interaction. A particularly touching moment was when “Waving Flag”, a long-time UP favorite, was cranked up. I had a great tim being a part of the scrum of people in the pool trying to sky each other. Water really helped you get up!

Tomer gets up!

The pool party wrapped up with everyone circling up around the pool. David gave a few announcements, the Pearl crew plus a few backup singers performed a beautiful song in Hebrew, which was followed by everyone singing the camp song.

A short bus ride later we were all back at Manof. Many staff members headed over to the Mohadoun for the staff meeting, which David ended up canceling. I followed suite and called off the head coaches meeting. The extra free time, which many staff members put towards sleeping, was certainly appreciated.

One and half days left. Time certainly flies when you’re having the time of your life.

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.

Fundraiser Dance Announcement

This weekend St. Johnsbury Ultimate is hosting the 8th annual St. Johnsbury Academy Invitational. 55 teams from 38 schools, representing 7 states and one province are coming in for a weekend of 176 games spread across 5 divisions and 4 field sites. It’s going to be amazing. On the Saturday night of the event, we hold a dinner/dance/trade night for all 950 players attending the tournament. On the Friday night before the¬†tournament, we are running the same dance as a fundraiser for Ava Schein’s Ultimate Peace work.

This morning during live announcements at St. Johnsbury Academy, Ava Schein gave a live announcement about the fundraiser. Supported by our dance gurus, Graham and Gordon, they put on quite a show. Check it out: