Thoughts and Reflections on Camp

I’m back in the US now, sitting at JFK, and still not sure what I’m feeling about the last 10 days. I have mixed emotions – maybe it’s the exhaustion setting in. I’m watching the airport wake up, people rushing from one flight to another. Then I look at my watch and it’s lunchtime now. Coaches are all hot and sweaty after a great morning practice, ready for food, rest hour, then the pool. I am definitely in another world right now and I’m not sure I fit in here.

I’ve never quite felt like this coming back from a trip or at the end of a summer camp. I was a counselor for two summers at day camps. While there were moments of amazement, it does not come close to what I experienced over the last 10 days.

I’m amazed. It was amazing watching how far the players progressed in just five short days. Their throws got stronger and more consistent. They applied the strategy we talked about during practices to the game. Their confidence grew. I’ve made great new friends for life through this experience. I’m amazed at how genuine people are. It’s easy to forget that and get caught up in the hustle of work and life in the US and become disillusioned with society. Camp was a great reminder of the true nature of people.

I’m sad. I wish camp had lasted longer. I miss the coaches, the players, the staff – everyone. I don’t know if I will be able to find such a great community of people all working toward the same goal in such a positive manner. In some ways I’m trying not to think too much about camp because the sadness becomes a bit overwhelming. I’m avoiding taking off bracelets that I wore the entire week, avoiding finalizing the end of camp this summer.

I’m impressed. The logistics of putting together a camp for 150+ players and 100+ coaches is a challenge. The fact that it all came together and the players had a great time is incredible. That is a lot of gear, food, housing, transportation, and more for everyone to organize. I’m impressed with the ME CITs. Their ability to calmly talk about difficult issues, to overcome their differences and become friends, and their confidence in who they are is impressive.

I’m frustrated. I wish I could do more. I want to do more to help the players improve their ultimate skills. I want to do more to make sure they all grow up to be the leaders I know they can be. It’s hard to be thousands of miles away and feeling helpless, wishing I could do more. I’m frustrated that the kids from the West Bank weren’t able to join us. That I couldn’t stay a couple more days to help make sure they got the camp they deserve. I’m frustrated knowing about the tension in the region then watching the kids work and play together so well. I’m frustrated that others can’t see what these kids do at camp.

Now what? That is my biggest question. I am more excited than ever to start school this fall. These last 10 days have only served to reinforce for me that sport-for-development is what I am interested in and monitoring and evaluation is critical for the success of these programs. Not necessarily in the success of the coaches or players, but the success in maintaining these critical programs; in making sure the structure of the programs end in a positive impact for the kids.

I’m already thinking about next year. It helps keep some of the sadness and frustration away. How can I go back? What can I do to prepare? How can I make a bigger impact?

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