UP Coach Dani Glass talks about a day at Training Camp 2013.
We’ve only just finished Day 3 of camp, but already the days are beginning to blur together in a whirlwind of practice, activities, personalities, and languages. The sun and our long hours has gotten to me and I am falling asleep while writing this, so I’m going to have to keep it short and sweet. Yesterday we had a long 4 hour block of practice time in the morning, so we took a break in the middle to play some team games like “Wah,” a quintessential part of UP. It’s almost like a sixth core value: Mutual Respect, Integrity, Fun, Non-Violence, Friendship, and Wah. We practiced layouts from the knees, and the Mamas were good sports – some enjoyed it more than others, as always, but we saw some good effort during our laid-back, slow paced partner drill.
Later last night we had a camp-wide activity. We discovered that one of our camp directors was mysteriously missing, so we teamed up and went on a scavenger hunt to find her. We played games such as “find your way through a maze while blindfolded,” “everyone has to find a way over this 4 foot high rope without touching it,” and charades (I hope my titles were informative enough). After completing each activity we received a clue as to where to go next, ultimately leading to a final meeting point for all teams so that we could find the famous Linda. The Maroon Mamas were teamed up with the Royal Blue Shakalans, together becoming the Shakamamas. As the action picked up so did we; our energy increased as the night went on and both groups interspersed and worked together to create the successes that would get us another clue. We had a lot of great moments throughout the night – for example, when one of our players guessed “schnitzel” correctly at Charades (we eat a lot of that here on campus), or when we had to cross a “river of lava,” able only to step on small squares to get to the other side safely, and the last two sneakily yet good-heartedly outsmarted the coaches.
I think my favorite moment of the night, anti-climactic though it may seem, was when one of the Shakalans, a girl I didn’t know very well and who had never stood out to me as being one of the most outgoing campers, ran up to a Mama with a huge smile on her face and introduced herself. We were on our way to another activity and even though most of the group was running out of excitement, the Shakalan noticed the Mama walking and stopped, taking the time to pause and encourage another of her peers. She chose to break free from the group, even though she was just as excited as the next, to welcome and get to know someone else. The look on her face was absolutely genuine and joyous – it was one I won’t forget for a long time. Excitement was emanating from her contagious smile, and the girl to whom she held out her hand grasped it and shyly returned the light-hearted grin. These are the moments we live for at camp – for where else would you see a Jewish-Israeli girl and a Palestinian girl interact? And even more, where else would they share an embrace, exuding warmth and whole-hearted acceptance? This is campers helping campers – young leaders stepping up to carry out the traditions that we have worked so hard to uphold. This is what Ultimate Peace is all about and I’m so glad we’ve given our young leaders the opportunities to begin these relationships that without camp they would be unlikely to share. It is these moments we live for at camp; they are what sustain us through the long days, short nights, hot sun, and bleary-eyed exhaustion. I feel the tiredness creeping up on me as I type, but as I think of these two girls I smile to myself. Camp is hard work, but it is moments like these that make it worth it. We have big moments as well, but these small, “easy-to-go-unnoticed” interactions not only pull us through the tiredness but bring smiles to our faces, tears to our eyes, and gratification to our hearts.