Shifting up a gear

We’re now gearing up for 50% more kids, almost 75 of whom are new to camp. In order to keep ahead of that wave, we have twice as many coaches at camp, and judging by the apparent energy in the air, we are going to be more than ready for camp to start in less than 2 days. I know it’s a bit risky to be too optimistic about prep work for so complex a task, but it feels right to be this confident. We have fabulous team of coaches and admins who are more than up to the task. We’re proven from past years and more importantly, last week. This week is going to ridiculously awesome.

Flick Photo Album – 7/2/13
YouTube Video – 7/2/13

I managed to find myself a normal(ish) amount of sleep last night, so when I settled down outside the Mohodoun to catch up on email, I was pretty close to fully awake. A round of David’s coffee later, I was truly ready for the day. With lots of new staff members filtering into the Mohadoun, I got to say hi to just about every new staff member. It was so great to see Ava again!

Ava! Go STJ!

Most of the staff packed into one large table at breakfast and enjoyed meeting each other. By shortly after 9am we were in the auditorium where David and Nancy ran us through the first rounds of staff orientation. We talked about the camp and moved through several pages of the staff manual. We went over camp roles, coaching teams were announced, and every stood and introduced themselves and said why they were at Ultimate Peace. Right before lunch each coaching team was given their skit topic, to be worked on over the next couple days and presented as part of camper orientation. Oh, the other amazing part of the morning was being able to Negev, a dog that’ll be with us on campus for the next day.

Negev in a UP jersey! :)

During lunch each coaching team socialized and talked a bit about the skit. As usual, I enjoyed some harif on various Schnitzel-like products. After lunch we made it back into the auditorium where we worked through more staff orientation tasks. There was a panel made up of returning coaches covering what new staff members should do in certain circumstances. At the end, the different task teams were described and then we were all set out to get to work on our tasks. I relocated to my dorm room where 8 more people joined to work on media. With Alex returning to do the Get UP! newsletter and Sarah to post to FB, along with 7 new people to help with photos, video, and blogging, this week’s media presence should be even bigger than last. By around 3:30 I finished the media planning and worked on the final edits to the coaching sessions. I snuck in a quick nap and by 4:15 was headed over the auditorium to get setup for the coaches training session.

Summer Camp coaches training

At a little after 4:30 I was in motion. With 50+ people in the audience there was a “bigger” vibe to the event. The coaches were engaged, active participants, and focused on the task at hand. We talked about spirit, covered lots of important points, and then moved outside. They handed in questions they’d like answered, and on those sheets I was able to take a quick census that ended up telling us that there was over 400 years of Ultimate experience in the audience, with the average person having played 7.5 years of Ultimate. Wow! Next we moved outside for the skills section of the training session.

Summer Camp coaches training

The coaching teams came up with methods for teaching basic skills, then gave their presentations to the whole group. The main focus of the activity was on teaching tactics, and the groups did well! It’s certainly a challenge to present any teaching material in a truly effective manner, but especially so when you’re working in a triple language environment. Nancy added in her great voice to the evening, as did her husband. What a power couple! David spoke for a bit at the end and then everyone was off for a bit free time before dinner. After filling up one more harif-based cousine, I was back in the auditorium for more training.

Flag time!

Nancy ran us through some more important orientation materials, taught us about the flags, and the CITs helped us through the Summer Camp staff’s first run-through of the camp song. We then got into our coaching teams to practice our skits. My group retreated to the Mohadoun and came up with a great skit for “Friendship”. I then hunkered down for media work while the rest of the camp went out to the fields for name-based social, get-to-know-you games.

Tomorrow we work through our last day of training and iron out all the details for the camper invasion on Thursday. Here they come!

Peace in everyday life

Today was awesome. I capped off the third and last coaches training session and was very happy about how they went. All the coaches and CITs are now here which is fabulous. The panel discussion was powerful, and everyone is amped for the arrival of the kids tomorrow.

When I slid into the Mohadoun at shortly after 7am this morning, David was already there busily typing away. I joined him, getting an immediate amperage gain from some of the amazing coffee David had already brewed. He knows how to keep people happy. Get up early and make coffee. Good move. I got some work done sitting with David and Bob before moving into the main HQ office to attempt some printing. Why is it that all technology has improved immensely over the last 20 years, with some unreal exceptions like fax machines and printers? Does ANYONE look at ANY printer and say, “I feel like that’s a stable piece of tech?” Sigh. Anyway… the printer won this round but managed to give up a few color copies before jamming for good.

I continued my work with the other machine, and managed to scan all the drills the coaches had come up with the previous day for their homework. They came up with some great stuff! By the end of the scan project it was time to get out and run the second coaching sessions.

Out on the field the coaches cleated up and Nadav led them through a warm up routine. I then facilitated a discussion about what other things could be done during warmups and then broke the coaches into two groups for open discussions led by Zolo and Josh W covering Zone O and Zone D. After 20 minutes the groups flipped and they covered the other topic.

It’s important to note we had wind and a bunch of clouds during the day. It was… perfectly wonderful weather. The only downside is that it’s not going to hold.

After the Zone discussions, we had a short conversation about HStack and then the coaches had to get to the auditorium for some more training led by Nancy and David. We ran through some very important rules, talked some more about the day, and then transitioned into time with our coaches teams. I had a great time working wit Idan and Sarah on our plans for the day. It was excited to get things down on paper for our plans.

Back in the dining hall we had a great lunch followed by some semi-optional pool time. Us returners could stay at Manof, something I did, working through the afternoon on coaching materials and getting more items planned out for the week. The work was worth it and by 5:30 I was fully ready for the last training sessions.

In the auditorium I ran the coaches through a few last important points followed by group discussions where the coaching groups shared their plans with each other for the upcoming days. I capped the indoor part of the session with some more reminders and then we transitioned outside for some more time working on our coaching plans for the next few days. The weather was cool, the ideas were wonderful, and a great amount was accomplished.

Back in the dining hall we all filled up on an amazing falafel dinner and talked about the day. It’s so much fun to be in the dining hall with so many wonderful people. It gets even more amazing when the kids arrive.

We then had a bit of free time before grouping back up in the auditorium for some more training. David talked about some important points and then we had a panel discussion of CITs who were on the US tour. It was truly inspiring to hear them talk about their stories. The prompts were fascinating, especially when they talked about if they thought there would eventually be peace in the Middle East. Some of the best quotes of the evening:

I aim to make peace in my every day life.

We already have peace. Right here.

I want you to go back to the US and spread Ultimate Peace out.

You don’t need to live in a conflict zone to benefit from Ultimate Peace.

We then worked through our first sing-through of the camp song, followed by some more music outside, the plan being to use it as an end-of the evening chill down track. It was awesome, especially singing the camp song outside in the warm, humid evening. Wonderful.

We then made out way back to the Mohadoun where people socialized, completed last-minute tasks, and relaxed. I ran a meeting with my coaching team, followed by a meeting with all the head coaches. We covered some great ground, had lively discussions, and most importantly it seems as though everyone feels prepared for the days to come.

Sleep calls.

Gathering momentum

Today was a blast. With about 95% of the staff on hand, the energy levels have risen to new highs. Everything is on the right track for a fantastic opening tomorrow!

I had once again hope to get up before 7 to get out onto the fields for a bit of exercise, but once again my plans were foiled by my need to sleep a bit more. I really am aiming to get to bed at a semi-normal hour tonight. We’ll see how that goes.

Breakfast was the standard fair, with me mixing a way, way too concentrated mix of instant coffee, which I replaced with some pretty good cocoa. I then got some more work done and at 10 we al grouped up in the auditorium for our first staff meeting.

David and Nancy then led up through various orientation sessions. We started by having everyone introduce themselves and say a bit about why they are working at Ultimate Peace. Here is what people had to say:

This is the best tool to get kids to respect and know each other. Ultimate is the best tool.

The mission of UP. We always stay true to our values.

Meeting other people who are also passionate about Ultimate. Learning from each other.

I am surrounded by Ultimate players, although I am not one. It’s life changing. Impossible to stay away.

Attracted to the power of UP to teach most respectful interpretation.

Believe in non-violence. Culture of team sports. A great way to build community and friendships.

Fun. Amazing experience. Helps me grow as an individual.

Ability to affect kids, more than experience of new stuff, being a model, break through frames in every culture.

Can’t think of a better way to bring kids together.

Engagement. Fair and just, best way to bring people together.

Literally broke into tears when she heard of UP.

Live his life to create the greatest good in life. Do it in a direct way. Dream big. Plan big. He needs to do something now.

Super excited about the community.

All about the campers.

Lives for the transformation of the kids during the week, from just getting to know them to huge hugs.

Camp is magic, incredible, setup fast, then a different world compared to the rest of the world.

Loves it all, your life will change.

Comes back because of all the relationships, unlike anything she has ever seen before, can’t imagine not coming back.

Only place where everyone is completely accepting, no stereotypes.

Hopes the camp will change the kids’ lives like Ultimate changed his.

Always been around, here with the idea of thinking globally and working locally, beautiful people and all the friendships, constant in his life.

When you love UP and you are not here, there is something missing all the time… The personal connect. Camp is where it all comes together. Watching what happens with everyone who comes through the program. The small miracles that happen all year long. Camp is who feeds me. Camp puts all the pieces together.

Didn’t realize how big of an impact UP would have on his life, changed me… Changes us all. Got pulled into the family.

Something different about Ultimate, everyone feels the same way about Ultimate having an impact.

After the morning orientation, we had a short break and then gathered outside for a tour of the campus led by Tomer. We saw the boundaries, learned about the two shelters, and saw various building, including the edge of the expansive farm. We then went to lunch and then returned to the auditorium for more orientation training. Towards the end we broke into groups based on which task teams we wanted to work in. I pulled in 5 people to work on media with me and we retreated to the Mahodoun to plan out our media blitz. After the jobs were distributed I setup a second wireless router for the staff and planned out a few more details for my training session. Oh, and my bag arrived! So, that’s awesome.

At shortly before 4:30 I was setup for the coaches training session, and coaches started streaming into the auditorium. The next two hours went very well. We covered everything I had planned for us and the coaches asked good questions. We got exactly the kind of traction I hoped for. During the evening we managed to cover:

  • Spirit of the Game
  • Important points
  • How to teach a skill
  • Drill sharing: on the field
  • Drill sharing: sketch out the drill
  • Summary

Here are some stats for the people in the training session:

Average # of years playing: 12.6
Collective # of Ultimate years: 303


Here are short Spirit of the Game definitions that several of the working groups came up with:

Spirit is the base and unbrella on and under which Ultimate must be played. Playing with the other team and not against the other team. Meeting teams as well as opponents in fair games.

Helps keep fun and perspective. Opponent is opponent not your enemy. It’s what makes Ultimate’s team communication unique. It’s unique.

Unique practice of at all levels pf playing and coaching that prevents winning from taking over sportmanship. 5 UP values. SOTG needs to be coached, glues us together. Fosters good relationships.

SOTG is supporting and encouraging peope no matter what. Golden rule. Value based game that defines the game. It’s in the rules.

SOTG is to be able to trust a person on and off the field. Mutual understanding and respect that keeps the game fun.

In the second half of the session we were outside on the field. Each of 8 groups taught up how to teach a basic Ultimate skill, and then we broke into two groups to discuss horizontal stack and vertical stack offenses. I then brought everyone in, talked about the homework (!), and prepped them for tomorrow. David brought us in, spoke, and then we were off to dinner.

After dinner we all met up for an hour in the Mohadoun so we could go over some more important points for tomorrow and the rest of the week. At 8:15 we broke into our coaching teams to work on our skits — each group has to act out one of the 5 UP value or one of the three C’s. At 9:15 we were all out on the fields playing various and VERY important games like Slack Jaw, Look Up Look Down, Wah!, and Ninja! Very important stuff.

It’s now 11pm and everyone is spread out either working on their homework, sleeping, or socializing. Tomorrow we finish off prep and training… and then the campers arrive on Tuesday.

What a great day.

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 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.

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!