Elliot Blumberg writes about disappearing anxieties and the excitement of meeting campers for the first time.
You can’t not get swept up in the spirit of Ultimate Peace. It’s inevitable that at some point during camp, you let yourself go, spring to your cleated feet and belt out “WE’VE GOT SPIRIT, YES WE DO! WE’VE GOT SPIRIT, HOW ‘BOUT YOU!?” The camp’s feeling of oneness and positive vibes turn the sourest disposition into a beaming mass of energy.
Victory tunnels! With every camper’s arrival, music blasted and arms arched up for victory tunnels. They giggled through, wheeled luggage in tow. At the end, a high-five line ready with cheshire-cat smiles and bouts of “WOO! ULTIMATE! WOO! WELCOME!” led by the most capable coaches imaginable guided campers to registration.
It only got better from there.
Meeting your teammates for the first time; checking in with high-fives at practice start.
Learning to flick, learning to cut, feeling blistered skin raise from handling a disc.
Ultimate, ‘WAH!’, ninja, songs, cheers, flag making and waving.
Nicknames, jokes, high-fives, fist bumps.
Swimming, painting, crafts, food.
Smiles. Hugs. Bed.
Today was a world away from yesterday. In 36 hours’ time, pre-teens and teenagers who had barely touched a disc and never heard of a stack or force were playing their first scrimmages. They were making the same mistakes we’ve all made – throwing lofty and blady to nobody, looking off the dump, not knowing whether to call themselves in or out. But they were experiencing the same ecstasy – laying out for a D, executing the perfect cut, high-fiving after an arduous point – all in the context of building bridges between communities that rarely, if ever, see how the other side lives.
I’ve been lucky enough to stumble into this world and its incredible people – an American co-coach willing to extinguish his ego for the greater experience of his campers; an Israeli Jew at the prime age of 19 who makes best friends faster than discs hit the ground; a Palestinian camper in his fourth year who takes every chance to cheer on his teammates from both sides of the fence.
Even now, while trying to write, I can’t concentrate for having a conversation with a coach who works in communities across the country because he wants to share his flatball passion with the next generation.
I and others were apprehensive at the thought of July the fourth (camper arrival) going imperfectly. What fools we were to worry – all we had to do was get into it, which, again, is inevitable.