Dani Glass writes about the ins and outs of getting Ultimate Peace’s summer camp up and started.
With training camp finished, it is time for summer camp, and 110 new campers. This is my fourth summer camp, so I know the drill but with every new camp comes new personalities, attitudes, coaching teams, and team dynamics. When our team was called, my co-coaches and I were ready for the new campers, and they were ready for us. We began with name games, get-to-know-each-other games, and coming up with possible team names. As the royal blue team, we came up with “Sky Diamonds,” and then began to paint a beautiful flag to carry around proudly with us.
My favorite moment of the first day was just before we left the dorms for dinner, when one of the girls on my team came up to me, inquiring as to when we would play more Ultimate. We had a bit of a language barrier, but once we cleared that up, it became clear that the “inquiry” was not so much a question and much more of a demand. She wanted more. One practice that afternoon hadn’t been enough for her. She wasn’t asking, she was telling. I left the common area of the dorm and went to one of the staff areas to fill up my water bottle, a huge grin on my face, telling every staff member I saw about the interaction I had just had.
The best part about it was that this particular camper is not the most experienced player. We love to see more experienced players show this type of enthusiasm, but there is something special about seeing that intensity on the face of a beginner. There are few things a coach loves more than hunger for knowledge and practice in a beginner. This particular player carried this attitude all throughout our evening activity (which consisted of several disc games). One of my favorite moments of the night was during one station when cones were set up about twenty yards away, and the object was to be the first team to knock over the cones. The campers had to stay behind a line (which was a challenge because of their eagerness), and the coaches were behind the cones, retrieving and returning discs. The same camper who had wanted to play more Ultimate was demanding the disc back as soon as she let it go, jumping up and down, waving her arms, yelling out my name. The memory brings a smile to my face. She wanted that disc. Her competitive side (I’ve got a pretty intense one of those as well) was coming out full strength, and I loved it. The rest of the girls weren’t far behind; they were not only participatory but excited, competitive, and enthusiastic. It was a workout for the coaches to send all the discs back as fast as they wanted! And even at our hardest we couldn’t keep up with the demand!
The Sky Diamonds are showing no sign of letting up. We had a great mini-scrimmage today during our afternoon practice. We split into four groups of three – two players and a coach on each team (maybe I just liked it so much because I got to play?) and held mini-games lasting just a few minutes before rotating teams. Coaches were on the field, but working more as facilitators than equal members of the teams. We were able to help organize the field. The girls did well – though we only have two players who understand the rules and know how the game is played, as a whole the exercise went well. They ran, they threw, they caught, they got open, and they showed great Spirit. Our more experienced players stepped up, and our beginners listened. They get better with every practice and every throw, and even more importantly, they are having fun. And so are we, the coaching staff. There is no better combination.