I believe in the little things. In Ultimate, in relationships, in life. The little wins become a victory, the little quirks become what we love most about each other, the little moments become a lifetime of memories. It all adds up. This is what Ultimate Peace does. We prove that little moments of peace are possible. Even if I might not see the impact of our efforts in my lifetime, those little moments can and will amount to peaceful coexistence between divided people.
I’ve had a little over a week to rest and reflect on my experiences at camp. Yesterday was my first day back at my rather hectic restaurant job, and during my tiring shift of pouring coffee and clearing plates, I had Ultimate Peace buzzing in my head. I was walking around the restaurant in the morning feeling very confused. I thought to myself, “Why has no one offered me a high five?? Are they crazy? Not one person shook their hands at me when I brought them water… Everyone had their, dare I say it… phones out? At a meal?!” I was in shock. No, really. In all sincerity, I didn’t understand the environment that I was in. As I brought coffee and water to customers, I greeted them with a smile and a “good morning!” I was almost always ignored. Despite serving an entirely full restaurant for over seven hours, I think I could count on one hand the number of times someone’s eyes met mine.
Last year I came to camp for the first time. A lot of my life since then has been shaped around UP: both American and Middle Eastern acquaintances became some of my closest friends, and my academic thought seemed to always come back to the conflict. I was in awe of what I had somehow been a part of in 2016. Everything about it seemed so powerful and deep, and that it was solving problems.
As we walked into the auditorium and helped our campers get situated, a fellow coach turned to me and said, “What are the odds we cry?” Without skipping a beat, I turned back to him. “100%. No doubt.”
Last night, as I led my campers to their rooms for some much-needed rest, two of them took quite some time. Waiting on campers is no new experience – most of them like to take their time gathering their things, putting on sunscreen, walking from place to place, and talking (and talking and talking) no matter how fast we coaches like to move. It’s an adjustment, for sure, but we make it work every year. Most of the time, I have to remind my always-moving brain and body to relax; this is about fun, and even if I think things are taking longer than they should, what matters the most is the campers’ attitudes and experiences.