The first night of camp went as you might think– 130 teenagers in dorms away from home does not make for a restful night for anybody, but somehow the “Froggy Froggers” were still lively at our 7:30am breakfast. They “ribbited” in to the dining hall and the cheering began, including a standing team, “Good morning, David!” when our fearless leader walked in.
Our first spirit awards were given out in the morning meeting. Coaches from each team took the stage to describe the camper who best exemplified our 5 values on Day 1. Phrases like, “participated in everything, smiled all day, called himself out of bounds, included people from outside her own community, volunteered to translate” came up. We don’t spend a lot of time talking here at UP. We like to show. So bringing these special campers up right away as models of the attitudes we’re trying to cultivate is our way of teaching what we mean by Spirit.
Then each team had a 4 hour morning block for team-building, both on and off the ultimate field. Many of the campers are not used to such long periods of physical exercise, so when the Ninjas ran their players through the gauntlet (a diagonal sprinting/fast feet drill), the girls were destroyed. They were hot, they were tired. They wanted to quit, but instead, a couple of rallying souls got them all to cheer their teammates on as the last of them made it through the drill. And then they were so pleased with themselves! They’d survived!
The pool provided its usual release and barriers continued to crumble. A religious girl from a northern Arab village recruited a girl from a privileged Jewish boarding school to write a team song for the talent show. A Jewish boy from a wealthy neighborhood decided it was his mission to guard a girl from Jericho in a game of keep away.
Our evening plans for the most epic game of capture the flag this campus has ever seen were foiled by lighting issues. Coaches had already painted their faces with team colors and were anxiously awaiting the kids when the decision was made. Safety first! You’d think this would be a great disappointment– and, ok, it was. But you’d never know it. The lights were on at the big field and immediately, a game of Galaxy Quest started up at one end, a game of DDC on the side, 500 at the other end, soccer on the basketball court and a big dance party in the corner. Kids were out asking for help on their forehands and running laps around the field to stay in shape. No one complained, no one protested… they just got right to the business of enjoying each other again. That’s what spirit looks like.